Teaching with Art¬

A view from behind of a couple people looking at a painting. They appear to be having a discussion about it.

Photo by Malik Emmanuel


Tuesday, April 16, 2024
5:00 PM-7:00 PM


Join us for Teaching with Art at Virginia MOCA, part of a free professional development series created for educators of all grade levels and subject areas. This program, focusing on our current exhibition Mark Dion and Alexis Rockman: Journey to Nature’s Underworld, aims to equip teachers with helpful tools and takeaway resources for using contemporary artwork in their curriculum and classrooms.

This program, focusing will be co-taught with Shawn Girvan of the Muse Writers Center. In addition some close-looking exercises in our galleries, participants will use a work of art as inspiration for creative writing.

The Muse’s “Write Now” program makes creative writing fun! Finding your voice doesn’t have to be hard work. It’s just a matter of letting your words and ideas flow onto the page without tinkering and re-tinkering your way into a creative cul-de-sac. In this special class, you’ll write—in the moment—inspired the art work of Mark Dion and Alexis Rockman , and then you’ll share your work in a safe and positive environment.

Shawn Girvan is the Associate Executive Director and Adult Literary Program Director of The Muse Writers Center in Norfolk, Virginia. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College and MS in Digital Communications Management from The Newhouse School at Syracuse University. He is a published essayist and poet, produced a critically acclaimed documentary film, and studied and performed improvisation at the Second City and IO Theaters in Chicago. In Shawn’s free time, he teaches English Composition at Old Dominion University and Christopher Newport University while working on his memoir.


Mark Dion and Alexis Rockman: Journey to Nature's Underworld

Mark Dion and Alexis Rockman: Journey to Nature's Underworld

Mark Dion and Alexis Rockman: Journey to Nature’s Underworld unites over 30 sculptures and paintings by two renowned artists who have explored humanity’s strained relationship with the environment for over 30 years. Both Dion and Rockman have achieved international prominence for their own distinctive practices. They conduct intensive research, using allegory, dark humor, and popular culture to convey their message. Each subverts the authority and objectivity of museums of art and natural history. They ground their studio practice in science and close observation but present it as theater.

The title, “Journey to Nature’s Underworld,” holds various meanings, including mythic abodes, archaeology, Earth’s subsurface, and unconscious beliefs about nature. Dion and Rockman reflect on our culture’s harmful course, balancing the wonder and woe of nature’s condition.

Mark Dion and Alexis Rockman: Journey to Nature’s Underworld was curated by Suzanne Ramljak Chief Curator of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and organized by the American Federation of Arts.

February 9, 2024-June 9, 2024