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Kozak also teaches an Art History course focusing on contemporary art exhibitions and time-specific work. In the past, he has collaborated with Concerned New Yorkers, Art 21, and Pioneer Works to motivate socially active projects. This year, Kozak’s Art History class worked with the National Parks Service (NPS), specifically looking at the General Grant National Memorial (aka, Grant’s Tomb) located at on Riverside Drive at 122nd street.

Attendance is rather lacking at this NPS site compared to Ellis Island, Federal Hall, and more recently, Hamilton Grange. Additionally, Grant’s legacy as a general and president is often overrun with misconceptions and misrepresentations. Together with park rangers, 40 students trekked through history to uncover fascinating truths about Ulysses S. Grant, finding that he had helped to introduce civil rights legislation half a century before the rest of the nation ready to have that discussion.

The culminating project for this exploratory collaboration in US History took the form of making corrective and comedic videos celebrating our 18th president and the post-Civil War era. The collection of these films is debuting at a festival in the school called Taken for Grant-ed. Student videos feature historical reenactments in Manhattan townhouses, rap battles of different Grant impersonators, and even a documentary in the style of Camille Henrot’s summative work, Grosse Fatigue.

Students started this project not really sure how our nation’s historic sites and memorials tie into actual history. Through this unit they gained a better understanding of the roles that presidential figures play in the present and how they’re remembered, as they become the past.

 

 

Links

General Grant National Memorial

Grant Monument Association

MLK Library Guide