Education: High School

Unconventional Self-Portrait: Gabriel Orozco and the Artistic Mindset


Virtual learning class, Fall 2020
Bronx Academy of Letters

Grades 10-12

Our Education Program at Marian Goodman Gallery was inaugurated with a collaboration with Sabrina Resnick, the art teacher at Bronx Academy of Letters. The wider mission of our education initiative is to reach new audiences and encourage and nurture a younger generation of artists and arts professionals. Our program intends to develop long-term relationships with students by partnering with art teachers in the New York City public school system. By creating a dialogue between the gallery, our artists, teachers, and the students, we hope to expand the students’ understanding of art, introduce them to some of the world's leading contemporary artists, and to bolster pathways to a possible career in the arts.

The following materials were created with the intention of introducing students to the concept of the "artistic mindset"—a way of thinking about the world and approaching art with an open mind and the intention to prioritize the creative process over the final product. Students learned about artist Gabriel Orozco and were introduced to his thought process. They then created "living journals" based on the philosophy behind Orozco's own notebooks and used these collections of observations to inspire unconventional self-portraits. 


A large part of Gabriel Orozco's practice has to do with not keeping a traditional studio space. Rather, he uses his notebooks as a sort of "portable studio" to work out his ideas. They serve as a travelogue, and a personal dictionary that allow him to pick up on his train of thought wherever he may be. The notes and drawings in these books become indispensable to the development of his ideas and projects. 

Gabriel Orozco also uses the street as his studio, often drawing inspiration from his environment and the seemingly mundane things around him. 


What inspires you as an artist?

"What inspires me as an artist is people. There's so many different people that live so many different lives which makes me feel inspired to think about how life is for other people even if it's just strangers on the train or someone who I saw in a deli." 
-L.P., Grade 11

 "What inspires me as an artist is that art isn't just about how pretty the artwork looks or how ugly or pretty it is. There can be emotion and a meaning behind it. Everything someone owns or makes has a meaning to it!!"
-T.H., Grade 11

Works discussed in class

Gabriel Orozco's work doesn't often depict the human body, or the face. His work does however abound in the traces left by bodies: marks, prints, skulls, shadows, reflections, dust, hair, pressure, spit, atoms...

Students were asked to gather images, words, notions, text, anything that they found inspired them or just struck them as something unique to themselves and their lives.

The students were then challenged to push the boundaries of what they think a self-portrait can be, discussing and comparing some of Orozco's works to that of traditional self-portraits.  Using the first assignment as a starting point, students were asked to use their initial inpirations and observations to create an unconventional self-portrait

What was one major thing you learned about yourself or about making art from this project?

"It is sometimes easy to forget that art can be a way of letting your imagination and emotions out on paper." L.D., Grade 11

"The smallest things can turn into a beautiful piece of art." G.D.R., Grade 12

What will you remember about Gabriel Orozco?

"I will remember that he doesn't need a specific working space or studio to create art, which inspires me because it shows how art can be made whenever and wherever as long as you love to do it." —L.D., Grade 11

"I will remember that anything can be art, and there doesn't have to be a specific method that you must follow in order to do something because he created art any way he wanted to." —A.S., Grade 11

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