Lectures & Workshops

Long, long ago, I was mister quiet hermetic writer-man… Then, one day, needing some cash fast, I got thrown in with a bunch of five year-olds on a basketball court in a leafy school setting, summer time. Mission: teach them French, through sports. Or, sports, in French. Em, okay… Anyone ever in the midst of 20 five year olds on a basketball court in the middle of the summer can attest to: instincts kick in, you become a performer, an instigator, a smiley creator of fabulous fun… Seriously though (right!), ever since then, I’ve always been very conscious of the parameters at play in these interactive exchanges. From the physical space one occupies to the number of listeners to the modalities of exchange, to the expectations of the audience, and their previous knowledge: these and all kinds of other components determine the adjustments in delivery, tone, language use etc…

Stomping grounds for the past six years have been MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York. From gallery talks to lectures to classes to educational programs in the galleries to workshops for a wide range of audiences. From a straight up interactive lecture on a temporary exhibit, to deeper issues in the theory of art (the Tradition and Innovation series), to specialized workshops for other museum professionals, students, teachers and caregivers, the lectures and workshops create comfortable environments where learning happens: knowledge is transferred, or produced, skills aquired, cognitive capacities developed, information accessed, and modalities of interaction generated that create more interest and fascination for future elaboration. So, now, the very design of the type of interaction that is best to serve the purposes of an audience is totally up my alley (and I have been trying to come up with names for new types of such educational interactions, other than ‘lecture’ and ‘workshop’ – see the Deso Portfolios [link])

Over the years then: work with kids, fams, adults, vips, profs, youngest, younger, young and still young, the learned and the learning, the quiet and the boisterous, the couple on valentine’s day, the trustees on a big day, the ambassadors of such and such place during the international day (including the one from Lichtenstein – and guess with whose work we ended the lecture (man offered me ein Bier, after)), teens and pre-teens, all backgrounds, ethnic, financial, quote unquote racial, from diverse nations and regions and languages (one super day, I gots me a group from the …) plus lots and lots and lots of workshops: with museum educators, teachers, artists, docents, professional from various fields (literacy, dementia etc…), cool cats and boring duds (still meaning well), progressive types and still-hanging-on-to-old-model-types… Art creation, photography, writing and literature, poetry, literacy. Workshops on creating workshops, workshops on creating learning environments, workshops on teaching strategies: so, workshops focused on particular skills, on strategy development, on teaching techniques, on learning, on concepts and conceptual frameworks and how to change or adapt them to best serve one’s goals and desired outcomes. Always focused on audiences’ particular abilities, experiences, knowledge, audiences with different abilities and at different stages of cognitive development…

All around the countra: Richmond to Reno, Cape Cod to Cleveland, D.C. to L.A., San Diego to Chicago, Tampa to Puebla, Memphis to Mumbai, Guadalajara to Grand Rapids, Miami to Mexico City… O yeah O yeah…

Few believe me when I tell of how I was really a very silent kind of guy, and not much for talking. But the truth is, we also make good use of the silences…

Lectures and gallery talks

Lectures and gallery talks onsite at MoMA, and offsite at The New York Public Library branches and other libraries and community organizations in New York on a variety of topics and special exhibitions.

Contemporary Art                                   Cézanne/Pissarro                                    Tradition and Innovation in Art (I-IV)(A cool little series I developed, with special topics: materials and techniques, concepts and ideas, etc…)                                                 French Artists Between the Wars                           You Too: the Viewer on View(One of my favorites: touches on how artworks impose the consciousness of being in the process of viewing, deciphering, and judging works – and about the aesthetic process…)Literature and ArtWords, Worlds, WorksAvant-garde movementsPhotography and NarrativePhotography and InnovationMasks and Modern Art(a Halloween special – really: about the nature of identity, various modes of thinking about our personae, and the construction and deconstruction of various categories of being)Abstract ExpressionismElizabeth MurrayPop ArtMunchMatisse and Picasso1913(Real fun one, and then made it into a 10-hour class: examined not just artworks, but processes of the construction of value, the gallery system, curatorial practice, the interaction between art and literature and more, with live readings in the galleries…)Beyond the Visible: Odilon RedonSeurat to Serra   (Probably my favorite in terms of accessing the definitions of art (‘what is modern art’) and doing a survey, while touching on the nature of tradition and innovation. The slight American mispronunciation of Seurat that I put in action playfully creates the connection even more…

Interactive Lectures

A lot of these interactive lectures, sometimes with a workshop component, I adapted over the years to work with audiences with various types of cognitive development At MoMA, at the Queens Museum of Art, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at Queens Public Libraries, New York public libraries and social and community organizations and museums all across the country and some parts of the globe

“Create-Ability”: various thematic workshops with children and adults with developmental disabilities include: People and Masks, Stories in Art, Colors and Shapes, Maps;“Programs in Art and Dementia”: various programs for adults with Alzheimer’s Disease and their caregivers include: Artistic Visions, Women and Stories, Landscape and Color, Men in White, Far Away So Close, Tales in the Landscape, Stories and Paintings, Love in the Modern Key;“Art inSight”: various programs with adults with sight impairments or who are blind include: Highlights from the Collection, Tradition and Innovation, Contemporary Art, Jeff Wall, What is Painting;“Interpreting MoMA”, programs with deaf and hard of hearing adults include: Out of Time: Contemporary Art, Jeff Wall, Highlights from the Collection.Family programs at MoMA and the MetSchool and teen programs


For museum professionals and educators, teachers, caregivers, professionals from the Alzheimer’s Association and other care organizations; for a range of institutions, non-profit organizations, managers, coordinators, family literacy and ESOL teachers, ABE teachers, mentors, volunteers. Topics include: Art and Dementia, Arts and Literacy, Family Literacy in Museum Settings, Integrating Arts in Teaching, The Museum as a Resource, Performative Teaching, Integrating Literacy into Museum Education, Making Art Accessible for People with Alzheimer’s Disease and their Caregivers.

With families, children, teens, mentors, adults learning English or in GED settings or in alternative programs, adults with schizophrenia or dementia. Topics include: Language and Art, Wild Angles, Communities Around the World, Paintings and Stories, Art and Politics, Art and Collage, Photography and Text, Writing and Art, Systems of Writing, Masks from Around the World, The Harlem Renaissance, Celebrations and Traditions, Sports in Art, Egyptian Art, Greek Art, Dance and Music through the Visual Arts, Movement, Arts and Literacy, Museums and Family Literacy, Artists and Visions.

Artist/Educator Guest Lectures & Workshops

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (November 2007)The Grand Rapids Art Museum (February 2008)The Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Arts (Denver, April 2008)The Nevada Museum of Art (September 2008)University of Nevada, Reno (September 2008)Walker Art Center (Minnesota, October 2008)Cape Cod Museum of Art (November 2008)Spruill Art Center of Atlanta (November 2008)Memphis Brooks Museum of Art (December 2008)Mumbai, India (several museums and cultural centers, February 2009)Phoenix Art Museum (March 2009)Houston Museum of Fine Arts (April 2009)Guadalajara, Mexico (November 2009)Mexico City, Museum of Modern Art (November 2009)Mexico City, UNAM (November 2009)Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Museum of Art (February 2010)The HoodMuseo AmparoDenver Art MuseumMuseum of Photographic ArtsColorado Springs Art Center


Celebrating Literacy, “Art and Literacy”, New York, 2005;Adult Basic Education Conference, “Art and Immigrant Communities”, New York, 2005;Adult Basic Education Conference, “Art and Adult Literacy”, New York, 2006;NYCMER, “Changing Communities, Changing Museums”, New York, 2006;Forum on Immigration and Museum Education, “Engagement and Experiences with Art and Museums: a Framework”, New York, 2006;Dementia Care Conference, Chicago, 2007, “Meet Me at MoMA”;Forum on Immigration and Museum Education: panelist/moderator, New York, 2007;“The Art and Science of Aging”, Grand Rapids, Michigan, February 2008;“The Value and Importance of Art in Healthcare”, New York, March 2008: workshop for educators on creating a program for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers;AAM, Denver, April/May 2008: a/panel: “Art Initiatives for Older Adults: Programs and Perspectives” b/workshop: “Making Art Accessible to People with Alzheimer’s Disease and their Caregivers”Dementia Care Conference, August 2008, LA: “The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project” + workshop at LACMA for museum professionals“Beyond the Word”, Alzheimer’s Services of Cape Cod Annual conference on Alzheimer’s Disease Research, Cape Cod, November 2008“With Art in Mind”, Phoenix, Arizona, March 2009; Keynote + workshopNational Center for Creative Aging, Washington D.C., March 2009The National Art Education Association, April 2009“Polyglottism and Literature”, New York Book Expo IV; Keynote“Manifestos Around Educational Possibilities in Art Museums”, Mexico, Museum Interpretation Conference; Keynote, 2009“Engage”, Cleveland Art Museum, Cleveland, February 2010Aging in America, Chicago… Miami, 2010“AAM”, LA, 2010

MoMA; 1913

MoMA; 1913

MoMA; 1913

MoMA; 1913

MoMA; 1913

MoMA; 1913

MoMA; 1913

amirrepublica photo2 IMG_1949




Creative Arts in Healthcare Grand Rounds