Ugly object contest

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Diane C. Gregory, Ph.D. (dg09)
Sun, 31 Aug 1997 21:02:41 -0500 (CDT)

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>i am working on trying to make a paper i'm presenting on teaching
>aesthetics really fun, exciting, and useful for my audience. i would be
>very appreciative to hear what questions everyone has about teaching
>aesthetics k-12, what would be helpful, interesting to hear about, etc.
>thanks! i don't want my topic to be confused with anaesthetics,
>anaesthesia... ;)

When I taught elementary art back in the late 70s, I did an activity with
my 4th/5th grade class on Aesthetics. I called it the Ugly Object Contest.
It seems to be easier for kids at this grade level to talk about the
Nature of Ugly rather than the Nature of Beauty. Anyway, I instructed each
child to find an ugly object that could be brought to school. I told them
because it was so ugly it had to be put in a bag so that no one would be
exposed to its ugliness. When the day of the contest arrived, I started by
asking two volunteers to bring up their ugly objects. We talked about
which object they thought was ugliest and almost every student had
something to say. After a time, we voted on which one of the objects was
the ugliest. The loser sat down and another person brought their object up
and additional discussion and voting ensued, until we got down to the
"winner." After the winner was selected, everyone clapped and cheered for
the ugly object. I then asked them where the ugly was...was it in the
object or was it in your mind. Most students agreed it was in their
mind...By the way, the first time we did this activity, an old cigarette
butt was considered to be the ugliest object of all.

I still use this activity in my art criticism, aesthetics and art history
class for art education majors. It is an enjoyable, albeit fun way to get
at the larger question about the nature of beauty.

Mirror mirror on the wall, who has the ugliest object of all? :-) We
are doing this activity on Tuesday, after Labor Day.

Cheers and hopes this helps.

Diane C. Gregory, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Art Education
Department of Art and Design
Southwest Texas State University
San Marcos, Texas 78666
dg09 (university e-mail in San Marcos)
dianegregory (home e-mail in Austin)


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