Choose Your Art History Quarantine House (Ep. 215)

In this week’s episode, Tim has decided to make the topic a little bit lighter. He brings on Lena Rodriguez to talk art history and their favorite artists to hang out with in quarantine. Listen as they discuss Maya Lin, Frida Kahlo, and more, as well as the power of giant portraits and how Tim can learn to love bling. Full Episode Transcript Below.

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Tim: Welcome to Art Ed Radio, the podcast for art teachers. This show is produced by The Art of Education University, and I’m your host, Tim Bogatz.

All right. We are now, who knows how long into schools being closed and we’ve been trying to talk to a lot of different art teachers about the cool things that they’re doing right now, and just talk about things that have been helping throughout this pandemic, throughout these school closures. We’ve actually put together a lot of kind of heavy episodes. So this week we’re going to try and lighten things up just a little bit. We’re going to try and have a little bit of fun.

So if you’ve been on social media, which everybody has certainly been–let’s be honest–there’s been a lot of cool memes about your quarantine house, and what sorts of things you would want in your house. Like the TV shows that you could watch or the things that you want to have with you or whatever the case may be.

I was just thinking about what you need around you or who you would want to be with in a quarantine. I actually found a really cool one that is pick your quarantine house for women artists from art history. I really, really enjoy this one. I found it on Twitter and I don’t know exactly where it came from because I’m trying to trace these things back to their origin is something that’s a little difficult.

But my best guess is that this came from Amy Neiwirth. I found her on Facebook and saw that she had created that. So Amy, if this is yours, thank you very much. It’s given me hours of entertainment and now a podcast episode. It’s been great to just think about and talk about art history with all of my friends and think about who you may want to spend your time with in a quarantine house.

So I hope this episode is going to be kind of entertaining. I’m going to be talking to Lena Rodriguez, my favorite person to talk art history with. We’re going to go through each of the houses and just chat about who we want to hang out with during our quarantine. So I’ll give you a quick rundown so you know what we’re talking about. We’ll go more in-depth with each of the houses once Lena comes on.

There’s six houses we’re going to choose between our best ones what we think would be the best place to go. House one is Artemisia Gentileschi, Kara Walker, a couple of the big names there. House two has Mary Cassatt, and Maya Lin, and Cindy Sherman. House three as Faith Ringgold and Helen Frankenthaler and Amy Sherald. House four has Kusama and Frida Kahlo? House five has Barbara Kruger, Elaine de Kooning. House six has Zaha Hadid, Lee Krasner, Georgia O’Keeffe.

So it’s a little more in-depth than that, but there are a few amazing artists in each of the houses. So we’re going to chat about their art and their life and who we may want to hang out with. So let me bring on Lena and we can start choosing our quarantine house.

All right. Lena Rodriguez is joining me now. Lena, how are you today?

Lena: I am phenomenal.

Tim: Awesome. I’m glad to hear that. That’s exciting. So as I told everybody at the top of the show, we’re going to be talking about our favorite art history quarantine houses. I gave people a little bit of a preview. We’ll dive in a little bit more in depth there. But before we start, I feel like we need to talk about these artists. Maybe lay down a couple of ground rules for what we’re going to do. So question number one for you, as this helps us make our decisions, are we going to assume that all of these artists are still alive?

Lena: I mean, I’m not going to live in any of these houses.

Tim: That’s what I was thinking. Like Artemisia Gentileschi has been dead for what? Four or five centuries now, so I feel like… that’s true.

Lena: I’m going to assume they’re all alive and act like the pinnacle of their careers.

Tim: I think that’s fair because I thought a little bit, do we want old wise Georgia O’Keeffe or do we want middle-aged ‘best painting ever’ Georgia O’Keeffe? It’s kind of tough, but I feel like we’re better if we go, like you said, at the pinnacle of their creativity. So I think that’s good. Then question two, I mean this is our own like magical imaginary house. So we can do whatever we want with it. But should we give everybody their own studio or should they all kind of share supplies and share space in the house?

Lena: I mean, in an ideal world, we would all be in one big space, but there are some huge personalities in every group. I almost feel like there needs to be a common area, but I also think the best way to really benefit from being with all these artists is to see them in their own spaces.

Tim: Yeah. That’s a good point. Because at first, I was thinking of all of the reality show drama we could have by sharing space. But I think it’s probably best like you said, we can kind of appreciate them more if we give them the space they need to work and create.

Lena: I know a lot of people that would pay good money to watch me just fall apart and have a breakdown living as an artist. So we can give the people what they want or we can separate it.

Tim: You know what, I like the idea. I think it’s a good balance. Everybody has their own studio space, but there’s still the common area that we need to hang out and put everybody together. So I think that’ll be good. All right, cool. So let’s dive into these houses and we can chat a little bit about each of them before we make our decisions about what we really like. So I’ll go through each house, read through the names of who’s going to be in there and then we can chat about that. So first house we have Artemisia Gentileschi, Sandy Skoglund, Nan Goldin, Maya Hayuk, Alice Neel and Kara Walker. So who are you really excited about in there?

Lena: I am excited and both scared kind of with Artemisia. She has an incredible story, but what I do love is she was a total boss during her time as an artist, late 1500, 1600, Baroque painter, Caravaggio. She went in some stuff and she had some really dark work. I don’t know. I might be a little on edge. It’s a little intense in that particular house.

Tim: I think so too. Like you said, Gentileschi is a boss lady. But Kara Walker is too. So we have some super strong personalities and some super intense work there. So I think that would be kind of cool. Like you said, it might be a little much. I do need to say though to balance it out, Sandy Skoglund. I actually had the chance to meet her a few years back. She was keynoting the Nebraska Art Teachers Association Conference. She came in and we did this collaborative work that she was directing. I got to meet her, talk to her, hang out with her and she’s like the nicest person ever. So I would really enjoy hanging with her. I think that would be really cool.

Lena: The only thing I’m a little hesitant about living with any photographer during the global pandemic because I am beat most days.

Tim: True. Right. But Sandy Skoglund would put you up in this installation and come up with this beautiful background that perfectly complimented your skin tone or your outfit or whatever, and she would just make you look amazing. So I think that would be worthwhile.

Lena: I can live with that. But then we also have Nan Goldin who’s a lot more candid and she’s not always asking for permission. But all right.

Tim: It’s a balance. It’s a balance. All right. So house number two. We have Mary Cassat, Laurie Anderson, Hannah Hoch, Aminah Robinson, Cindy Sherman, and Maya Lin. All right. First impressions on that one?

Lena: Cindy Sherman, yes. All day, every day, Aminah Robinson. That is somebody I think I could just vibe with in any situation. She does a lot of sound art. She’s a little bit of everything. She is an activist. She wrote a children’s book connecting Hanukkah and Christmas. She’s just, as the kids would say, very woke and just being a really cool lady. Mary Cassatt I mean there’s that soft motherly vibe with her that I think would be good to have in a house. So I think that’s a good house.

Tim: Yeah. See for me like that one was not doing it for me. See, like Mary Cassatt, the motherly thing . . . that works. But also I think she’s just boring. I don’t know if I would want to hang out with her that much. Same with Laurie Anderson. Hannah Hoch and her weird surrealist face collages, those creep me out. I can’t imagine just walking by her studio and seeing some of those faces staring at you. I would not enjoy that.

But the one sort of saving grace madhouse for me is Maya Lin. She is maybe one of my three or four all-time favorite artists. So just being able to hang out with her would be amazing for me. So I don’t know if I love the other five, but just having Maya Lin there would be incredible for me.

Lena: It would be a nice change to have somebody that’s done some architecture and sculpture.

Tim: Right. She’d make everything look better around the house. So I like that. All right. House number three, Faith Ringgold, Helen Frankenthaler, Anne Hamilton, Carmen Lomas Garza, Amy Sherald and Jen Stark. What do you think there?

Lena: That’s my favorite house.

Tim: Oh, okay.

Lena: I know. It’s my favorite house. I like the house. It’s very diverse. Different types of personalities. Helen Frankenthaler and I have the same birthday.

Tim: Oh, that’s a great birthday to share.

Lena: Ann Hamilton, she studied with Rufino Tamayo who’s actually one of my favorites. And Carmen Lomas Garza, she is from Texas like I am. Her work is all about faith and family and culture, which is something I’m really drawn to. Amy Sherald, duh. She does some really cool work. Then Jen Stark, there’s no way I could do anything like what she does work-wise, but she’s still awesome. Her artwork is like a household name for a lot of people.

Tim: It’s so bright and colorful and it gives you something to look at, which is awesome. Actually we’ve had Jen Stark and Faith Ringgold from this house. We had both of them as featured presenters at our Art Ed Now Conference and they were both just amazing. I love this house too. There’s a lot of really, really good stuff going on in there. I think that would be awesome.

All right. House 4. This one has a couple of the big names, but we have Yayoi Kusama, Eva Hesse, Frida Kahlo, Grandma Moses, Mary Blair and Julie Mehretu. So obviously Frida is the big name. We’re super excited about that. What do you think about, A, would you ever live with her and B, what about the rest of the house?

Lena: Heck yeah, I would want to live with Frida. That was a really tough one, but one person can’t carry the whole house. I really love Frida Kahlo. She’s one of my favorites. But I mean do I really, really want to tend to all of the physical elements and things like that. That’s pumped. Even the same thing with Eva Hesse. She went through a lot healthwise and with depression. But then when you balance it out with Kusama and Grandma Moses, I think that there could be a pretty interesting balance. So many different personalities in that particular house.

Tim: Yeah. I feel like there’s a lot going on personality-wise. Also, Frida just had so many weird things in her studio. You never know what’s going to show up in your house so that it depends if you enjoy weird things just being around for no reason whatsoever. So I think that could be kind of fun. And also Kusama. What if you just wake up one day and your bathroom is turned into an infinity room? Is that exciting? Is that really weird? I don’t know. But I think it would keep you on your toes for sure.

Lena: Yeah.

Tim: All right, cool. Now, house number five. We have the Guerrilla Girls. Hilma af Klint, Esther Mahlangu, Lisa Congdon, Barbara Kruger and Elaine de Kooning. Okay. First thoughts there?

Lena: Obsessed with Elaine de Kooning. Just totally obsessed. I don’t know that I want to live with the guerrilla girls unless they agree to take the masks off.

Tim: Fair, fair. Yes. I feel like I would just… If I lived with Elaine de Kooning, every day would be like, do you want to paint my portrait again? I love her stuff, and it would be so amazing to be able to do that. I had to look up Hilma af Klint. I was not familiar with her at all. It’s like a little too… I don’t even know what to say. A little too chipper and bright colored and fun for me . . . her and Lisa Congdon together? I don’t know if I want that much. That sounds terrible to say. I don’t know if I want that much happiness . . . it’s not my aesthetic, we’ll say.

Lena: The cool thing about Hilma was that she was known to work with groups. So that tells me that she might be flexible and she was in a group called the five or something like that. So I think she works well with others. I think there’s a balance there, but yes, I’m the same way. During a global pandemic, don’t you want a little chipper?

Tim: Yeah, probably. Probably. All right. You’re talking me into it. I love Elaine de Kooning. I love Barbara Kruger and so I could definitely make that work. All right. House number six. Lee Krasner, Zaha Hadid, Niki de Saint Phalle, Mickalene Thomas, Bridget Riley, and Georgia O’Keeffe. A lot of cool stuff going on there. What do you think?

Lena: I’m in just from Mickalene Thomas.

Tim: Yes.

Lena: I got to see a lot her work over the summer. Where was I? Kansas City. And just enamored. I love the female empowerment. I love the bright colors and I’m from Texas. So I love the bling. So I’m really feeling living with Mickalene Thomas. Of course, Georgia O’Keeffe and Zaha Hadid. I mean, she is a boss lady with the architecture and all of that.

Tim: I’ve always loved Bridget Riley, but I haven’t thought about do I want to live with giant Bridget Riley paintings in the background, like staring at those all day. That can be difficult.

Okay. So here’s my hot take for the day. I like Lee Krasner more than I like Jackson Pollock. I love her paintings. I love her texture, her design, her use of color, all of that. She is incredible. So I’m a big fan there and I think it would be awesome to just kind of talk to her about everything that she’s doing. So I think just the different types of work in that house and the different styles of the artists I would love. Mickalene Thomas, the Joslyn art museum, which is the big museum here in Omaha just purchased one of her paintings.

It’s this giant portrait, I feel like. It’s 12 feet tall or something like that, and it’s just incredible. So going there was like my first introduction to her. I was like this is amazing. I’m not as much of a fan of the bling, but I feel like I could learn to love it. We could be all right.

Lena: Come to Texas. It’ll grow on you.

Tim: Okay. All right, cool. So we need to start making some decisions here. So I would say let’s begin by getting rid of two houses. Which two are you saying no, thank you to? Which two would you want to eliminate, house one?

Lena: We’re on a global pandemic. That’s just too dark right now.

Tim: Okay. That’s fine. I’m keeping House 1. I’m a fan of a lot of those artists, so I’ll be okay. Okay. Who else do you want to eliminate?

Lena: Let’s see. That’s tough. Okay.

Tim: I know. These decisions are really hard. Do you want me to eliminate one of mine first?

Lena: No. I’m going to go with House 2.

Tim: House 2. Okay. That is my first one that I’m getting rid of. So house two is gone for me too and I’m very sad to see Maya Lin go, but as great as she is, she can’t carry everybody there. Then I am going to get rid of house number five. You made a good case for them. Do I need more Lisa Congdon in my life? Maybe. But right now I’m still just not feeling it. So we’re going to get rid of those. Okay. So now decision time for you. Let’s choose between house three and house four. Do you like house three with Faith Ringgold, and Amy Sherald, and Jen Stark, or do you like house four with Kusama and Frida Kahlo?

Lena: Okay. So I didn’t know I was going to have to choose between those two. That is ruining my life right now.

Tim: Well, we’ll choose between those two and then the other two and then we’ll figure out who you really, really like.

Lena: I feel like I’m cheating on Frida, but we’re going to have to go with House 3. I think it’s the total package.

Tim: Okay. All right. I have to choose between those two also because I kept both of them. I’m going to go with house number four. I think there’s just a little bit of unpredictability there that I really like. So I’m going to stick with house four and I’ll get rid of number three. Okay. And then you have to make your decision between five and six. Do you like Elaine de Kooning and company in house five or do you like Mickaline Thomas and Georgia O’Keeffe and Zaha Hadid in house six.

Lena: I love Elaine, but we’re going back with the Guerrilla Girls. They’re awesome. I would want to keep House 6.

Tim: You’re going to keep six. Okay. That sounds good. All right. So I have to choose between six and one. So Georgia O’Keeffe, Bridget Riley, Zaha Hadid, lee Krasner. I think that’s going to beat out Gentileschi and Skoglund and Kara Walker. As much as I love them, I’m going House 6 also. Okay. So now it is time for your final decision, Lena. You have house three, Faith Ringgold, Helen Frankenthaler, Anne Hamilton, Carmen Lomas Garza, Amy Sherald and Jen Stark or how six with Krasner, Hadid, Niki de St Phalle, Mickalene Thomas, Bridget Riley, and Georgia O’Keeffe? Who is your quarantine house? Who are you going with?

Lena: I’m thinking in terms of my current life right now, I really absolutely truly miss my mom. She’s three hours away, which isn’t super far, but I can’t see her. I’m just really attached to the idea of Carmen Lomas Garza. She’s around the same age as my mom. They’re very similar. So with her and Ringgold and Frankenthaler, Stark, I’m going to choose house three.

Tim: All right. I think that’s an awesome decision. All right. That’s what we need in our life right now. I like it. Okay. So for me, I have house six so we should just talk about or house four with Kusama and Frida Kahlo. I have to go with how six there. I love Lee Krasner. I would love to talk to Zaha Hadid. Niki de St Phalle could do amazing paintings and sculptures. We talked about all of the greatness from Mickaline Thomas and Georgia O’Keffe and even Bridget Riley too. So I think house number six is going to be my quarantine house. So that is going to be my choice. So, all right.

Lena: Fun fact about that. Georgia O’Keeffe and Frida Kahlo had a very close relationship. So by being in a house with Georgia O’Keeffe, you can get your Frida fill as well. I’m sure she’ll tell you about fun facts.

Tim: Oh, so many good stories. Georgia O’Keeffe was part of the art world for so long. She has just so many things to tell. So a lot of good conversations there. I like it. All right, cool. I’m feeling very good about that. I hope you’re feeling good about your house as well. It’s been an awesome conversation, Lena. Thank you so much. It’s been a lot of fun.

Lena: Thanks. I’ve had a lot of fun as well. It gave me a lot to think about.

Tim: Yeah. Which is exactly what we need right now. Just a little bit of time to escape, think about art history and kind of entertain ourselves. So like I said thanks for joining me.

Lena: Thank you so much, Tim.

Tim: All right. That was really enjoyable. I hope you enjoyed listening to it and I would love to hear from you to hit me up on Twitter or shoot me an email and just let me know which quarantine house you would choose. I think that’d be a lot of fun. Honestly, I’m going to spend the rest of my day just kind of hanging out, thinking about all the amazing conversations I could have about Lee Krasner and her art and her life and the time she spent with Jackson Pollock and Georgia O’Keeffe and her entire life. So many good stories, so many cool things to talk about. And I think that would be just absolutely amazing.

So it’s been a lot of fun to kind of think about that. Then before we go, I need to keep reminding you of the webinars that we’ve been doing every week. This week is actually going to be our final webinar. This will be our sixth one and it’ll be happening Thursday night at 7:00 central. We’re going to be talking about social and emotional learning and how we can do that from a distance. We’re going to talk more about materials and lessons that you can give your kids. We’re going to talk about trying to plan longterm if your school is closed for the rest of the year.

So a lot of good topics, a lot of meaningful topics. So check the AOEU Facebook page or the AOEU website for all of the details. On the website, we have all the resources we’ve put together there. So make sure you check that out and hopefully we will see you at the webinar on Thursday night. So thank you to Lena. Thank you to Amy for putting this meme together with all the quarantine houses. It’s been a lot of fun. So stay safe, take care of yourself, and please take care of everyone around you.

Art Ed Radio is produced by The Art of Education University with audio engineering from Michael Crocker. Thank you for listening and we will talk to you again next week.

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.