Our far-flung staff, cont’d…

November 9, 2010 at 10:49 pm Leave a comment

“I had no nation now but the imagination.”

Derek Walcott

You may have read about our new director, Gordon Knox, in ASUNews recently:


What the article doesn’t mention is where Gordon was at the end of October – namely Nairobi, Kenya, at “Imagining Futures,” a conference hosted by Aga Khan University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences in East Africa Digital Expressive and Business for the Arts Program (an extraordinary mouthful that we will now refer to as simply Aga Khan University).

The goal of the conference was, in Gordon’s words, “imagining and developing a curriculum for a new liberal arts East African university designed to prepare students for the 21st century in a post-discliplary context ,” and he was invited to attend the conference by Aga Khan University because of his work at places like Stanford and in countries like Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan “providing creative practitioners opportunities to engage with technology, corporate research, education, social justice efforts on the ground and social change.”

“Here’s the kicker,” Gordon says. “When I got there, I said ‘I’m currently the director of the ASU Art Museum,’ and everybody was totally excited. They see ASU and the New American University as the absolute model for what they’re doing. Michael Crow is really a  rock star among the curriculum developers and the theoreticians moving forward with this.”

The group discussions Gordon participated in included an inquiry into the nature of art as an investigative tool and “as a system for challenging and advancing our assumptions on a cultural level” (which, coincidentally, is one of the subjects that Robert Atkins will be addressing in his appearance next Tuesday when he kicks off our new series Re-Thinking the Museum https://asuartmuseum.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/the-museum-as-knowledge-producer/.)

“I took those ideas and applied them to the expressive arts,” Gordon explains. “It’s perfectly integrated into the mission and goals of the New American University, of ASU’s cross-disciplinary, focused approach designed to encourage entrepreneurship and creativity, to transform society through use-inspired research and empowered students.”

Each of the four working groups at the conference delivered an outline of recommendations for the curriculum. Next, the conference organizers will figure out where they want to go with those recommendations.

And ASU may very well receive a visit from a contingency of the senior people at the conference “to see what we’re up to,” as Gordon puts it.

“I’ve invited a few participants to come to present their work next spring, including Raphael Omondi, a 21-year-old street performer and organizer who developed a series of arts locations in different parts of Nairobi.”

Gordon believes work like Omondi’s holds important lessons about how the museum can engage communities.

“It’s where people meet the archive that the museum exists,” Gordon says. “The ASU Art Museum is energetically exploring and expanding that lateral reach into our communities, including the university and the Phoenix area, while energizing and making relevant the complex thinking embedded in the objects of our collection.”

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

“The Museum as Knowledge Producer” Mary Lucking – Open for Business

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November 2010

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