May 10, 2017

Art Sandbox

Art Sandbox

I have examined the web for online-courses dedicated to the history and theory of art and have made a list of five curious and griping MOOCs. 

History of Art from Oxford University

Introduction to Wester Art History from Saylor Academy

Moder Art in MoMa: 1180 - 1945

Women in Art and Art History from Tate

Modern Russian Art from Universaruim

I have deliberately chosen the short course “Women in Art and Art History” created by Tate for the review due to its briefness. 

Women have always been doing art, however a long time had to pass before their work was acknowledged. The online course of Tate tells about the challenges women artists had to face: from learning to selling, about fighting for their rights, about feminism in art in general. It introduces us to the works of Barbara Hepworth, Francoise Gilot, Beddi Peppi, Lora Simpson and others, and questions of gender, equality, freedom and democracy that are reflected in it.
The content of the course is divided into three major sections: a brief history of women in art, stories of famous women artists and women’s issues in art. The structure is amazingly clear and easy to follow, the content absolutely accessible to everyone and doesn’t require any background in art. It is most likely that the initial aim of the project is not so much an academic education, but rather general public enlightenment. I have watched the whole course; it didn’t take much of my time and felt more of an entertainment. Each lecture from the section women as artists is a biographical and critical narration with injections of interviews from artists themselves and art experts, and each of these stories is fascinating and inspiring.

The biggest advantage of such kind of online courses is that it is accessible to everyone, every time and everywhere. I don’t believe that online learning can replace the whole range of activities that are a part of conventional model of education, and I don’t believe that classical student-teacher communication will ever die out. In almost all fields (programming is the only big question mark for me) being psychically present and going through the full circle to education is a part of building professional identity. However, MOOCs can be a great step into the subject. Without any pressure one can try and play with a field. It is also a great opportunity for people who for some reason were disappointed in conventional university and school to restore their interest and to find their own way of doing things. I appreciate availability and feeling of independence that MOOCs give to a student. 


  1. Since you're Russian, and since I know nothing about Russian art, I kind of had my fingers crossed for that one!

    Nevertheless, the one you chose seems interesting.

    I'm curious though, did you come up with the title "Art Sandbox", or is that the title of the MOOC platform? In either case, do you know (or can you conjecture) the intended meaning of that name?

    Or, perhaps more interestingly, what connections can be made between the ideas of sandboxes and of MOOCs?

    Perhaps these connections indicate changing views of what it means to "get an education" -- maybe it's becoming more associated with fun than the traditional strictures of a formal education ever were.

    A good development, if you ask me.

    1. Lukas, thanks for acknowledging my title inventiveness!:)) yes, it's my idea, but you've added so much more meaning to it. Because what I have experienced from my course was more of a first steps and activities ( like with children in a sandbox) in learning. It was also combining several types of activities at once ( like the don't do the same for more than 5 secs in a sandbox) but you are right, it's also about having fun!

  2. First of all, I'd like to state that I found your brief excursion into the realm of 'Art MOOCs' really interesting, especially because you - deliberately or not - showed the vast variety of different plattforms that offer courses on this thematical realm.
    Also, I find the question posed by Lucas concerning the choice of title for this blogpost quite interesting - especially because it planted the seed for a preconception on my hand going into a completely different perspective. I took it literally and thought that this blog post would be about 'sandboxing' Art, as in making Art more open and invitational for participation.
    However, I would have liked to hear more about the instructors teaching respectively the institution behind this MOOC - maybe it's just me, but I'm always curious to find out who invests his/her (personal) time to set up an online course, in particular when it comes down to art (history).
    Anyway, thanks for sparking my interest into Art MOOCs and for even making a list!

    1. Dear Clemens, I have realized in terror that I wrote you an answer that in a hurry I didn't publish.Sorry for that!

      I was really glad to find out that my "hit-parade" of MOOCs on art has sparkled your interest for this realm. I myself adore online courses on history and theory of art, as I find many of them full-value for a layer.

      You are also absolutely acute in your observation about "sandboxing" art in such kind of projects, since without any doubt they open the doors to the world of art for everyone, being highly inclusive. Hmmm, though... it's a question to what extent inclusive are sandboxes, not in metaphoric
      sense, but in real life:) For example, grown ups do not play in sandboxes. As well, I am sure,
      experts on art, do not watch MOOCs on art. Anyway! It's great to see how the title given by me half-seriously, half in jest has provoked making very intelligent connotations from my commentators.

      As for your last question - as I understood, it is the enlightenment project of the Tate Gallery, and the characters, women artists who tell their stories, were simultaneously the "lecturers". It doesn't look like any conventional lecture. All the plots are filmed either in artists' workshop ateliers or in very informal settings. And in many senses it is amazing to hear those stories from the mouth of artists themselves!

  3. K. Mayer says: coming back to the "sandbox" idea. Would you say it should be a major strategy for opening university education towards providing brief and entertaining introductions to scholarly fields? How could they go beyond the format of video to engage potential future students with the topics?