Drawing by Joseph Kosuth

Although I am not a teacher by trade, I have been fortunate enough to adjunct or lead a special projects class here and there. My favorite part of teaching has always been lesson planning. (This is one of many wonderful books I consult.) And one of my favorite classes to create lessons for is Drawing 101. One day, I wondered what it would be like to have students draw a map of the continental US from memory. I did some Googling and found some artists’ takes on this project from a show at Sean Kelly (the Joseph Kosuth image featured above always gets a reaction). I then assigned the project to each student at their easel, but when I realized the Herculean task I had set before them I gathered everyone at the front and had them make a communal map on the classroom whiteboard. While it led to such interesting comments as “Well you have to drive through like 40 states to get up and down the east coast,” it also led to creative problem solving and students sharing stories of their travels and experiences across America. When I have a class do this, most often we can manage the states surrounding us (and always Florida, Texas, and the three states running across the west coast). Beyond that it gets a bit fuzzy and states just excitedly pop up in relative proximity to where they belong. The students, I hope, start to understand the value and subtlety of line in various parts of our life beyond the still lifes and perspective drawing that I teach them. And they are hopefully reminded that we all know a bit less than we think we know. (I myself still struggle with drawing the map even after having lived in 13 states.)

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