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Lesson Plans


P & E of design

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
EILEEN PRINCE (eprinc1)
Tue, 2 Apr 1996 09:28:37 -0600 (CST)


Mark Larson wrote:
"I am by no means advocating a studio only approach --- that IS awful, but=
somewhere out there, there HAS to be a balance between ideas, criticism,=
and technique so that our discipline can move forward...art educators need=
to shore up the foundations so that the art product (no matter which=
direction it takes) will be enhanced AND our students will also be able=
discuss and critique art intelligently as well."

YES! YES! YES! THANK YOU! I'm not sure I truly understand why there is=
even debate on this issue. John Ruskin once said that fine art is that in=
which the hand, the head and the heart of man go together. In my opinion,=
truly great art requires concept AND visual strucure of some sort. =
Technique without concept has no heart, and concept without technique has=
no body, no mouth with which to speak. A group of art teachers was=
recently at the Indianapolis Museum of art in a workshop when we were asked=
to critique a certain contemporary expressionistic piece. Virtually=
everyone agreed that the technical problems with the piece intruded upon or=
prevented a deeper relationship with the work. There was one portion of the=
piece which was so disunified and poorly resolved visually that we couldn't=
get past it to the message without great determinination. ( We all agreed=
that the problem did not appear intentional nor did it in any way enhance=
the "message").
Daniel Pinkwater has a wonderful story in his book Fishwhistle about today's=
tendency to let art students "do their own thing" unfettered by such=
concerns as art history or traditional technique. I think that we have too=
long been in the mode of "The Emperor's New Clothes". Since none of us=
wants to appear uneducated or artistically naive, we accept virtually=
everything as ART. Who said "If everything is art, nothing is art"? How=
true. I think our general inability to find an accepted definition of the=
term has led to the conclusion that their IS no definition and that=
everything is acceptable. =20
During our unit on Renaissance art the culminating activity is a study of=
linear and circular perspective during which I am pretty strict. This is=
an area where there IS a "right" answer and I want the kids to experience=
at least some of the rigors associated with this discipline. As I explain=
to them at the time, they may CHOOSE never to use perspective in their own=
work ever again, but it will be a CHOICE not a necessity born of ignorance.=
And whether or not they ever choose to use perspective again, their work=
will be INFORMED by it. There is simply a difference between a work by=
someone who understands certain concepts (i.e. figure drawing, perspective,=
etc.) and chooses not to use them and someone who doesn't. And even if I=
were willing to restrict my students to the most purely formalist=
approaches or at least the most nonobjective, there would be questions of=
shape and color and balance, etc. that would need to be explored. If my=
job is merely to offer class time for them to "express" themselves then why=
must I be a trained art teacher? If there is no critical contribution or=
suggestion that I can bring to a discussion of their work, what is my=
purpose? Conversely,
if my ONLY role is to teach them to arrange elements "properly" then we can=
get by with a lot less class time and probably work it into geometry class=
to save money. And since art is created from a variety of viewpoints, if I=
teach from only one or two, I may be denying my kids access to much that is=
out there. As Mark pointed out so well, BALANCE is the key. Why do we have=
to choose? Let's give the students eveything we can and then let them make=
EDUCATED choices. =20
Eileen Prince
Sycamore School, Indianapolis