10 Inspirational TED Talks for Art Teachers

When is a portrait not just a portrait? When it’s a peace project. Inspiring stuff!

This is such an inspiring TED Talk and is easy for students to understand. The photographer, Levon Biss, talks about how he found new fulfillment in photographing insects in extreme close-up thanks to his sons interest. There is also the most incredible website where you can view and zoom in on his photographs. This TED talk and website would be the most incredible start to a project. www.microsculpture.net

Phil Hansen will inspire your students in this video with the idea of accepting any limitations that they might have. It is also a useful video if you are looking at mark making. “Embracing a limitation could actually drive creativity” is a favorite quote of mine from this video. It will encourage students to ‘let go’ and experiment, and dare to think ‘what if…’

Vanessa Ruiz takes us on an illustrated journey of human anatomical art over the centuries, sharing captivating images that bring this visual science — and the contemporary artists inspired by it — to life. It is about half way through the video that she introduces contemporary artists, and this for me is where it get really interesting, with artists who paint on canvas, on bodies and street artists.

This talk by Dustin Yellin, who puts things in boxes, could be a brilliant start to a project. He talks about how his childhood influenced him and he takes you on a journey of how his work has developed. He touches upon problem solving and his influences. You could get students putting items and drawings in boxes or you could get students working on layers of acetate. Huge potential as a starting point!

Alexa Meade seems to be very popular with students right now, and why not! Who doesn’t fancy painting on a real human being? Or photographing a painted model lying in milk! In this video you will see examples of her work and she clearly explains her process and how working this evolved.

This is ideal to show to a student who is going down the paper cutting route, or to give to them as a homework. Or why not start off a whole class project by showing this TED talk? She has a great website.

Painter Alyssa Monks finds beauty and inspiration in the unknown, the unpredictable and even the awful. In a poetic, intimate talk, she describes the interaction of life, paint and canvas through her development as an artist, and as a human.

I love it when I get a student who is passionately green and concerned with the environment. This would be a great video to show them.

Artist Theo Jansen demonstrates the amazingly lifelike kinetic sculptures he builds from plastic tubes and lemonade bottles. His creatures are designed to move — and even survive — on their own. This could be a fantastic start to a 3D project using art straws making, what he calls ‘Strandbeests’.