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I am the project coordinator for the North Texas Institute for
Educators on the Visual Arts (located in Denton, Tx) and have
also taught art to every grade level from kindergarten to
college, so my remarks are based on my experiences both in
teaching art and in developing materials for teaching.
At the Institute we develop and use lessons and units that
initially focus on a work or works of art. Historical, cultural,
and biographical information is included as appropriate. Art
history, art criticism, and aesthetics may all be integrated
into such a lesson, but that depends on the concepts, themes, or
techniques being emphasized. The production activity that
follows IDEALLY encourages students to understand the theme or
essential meaning intended by the artist(s) and interpret that
theme or meaning as it applies to their own lives. Evaluation and
class discussion after the production experience may include a
return to the initiating works for further extensions or connections.
Artists throughout time have expressed the ideas of the culture
in which they originate. Comparing and contrasting works of art
with similar themes helps students better understand the
commonalities artists share. I believe students feel more free
to create original works when they see many examples and are
then encouraged to interpret the ideas expressed in ways that
are personally meaningful to students and have connections to
their lives. This has been true in my experience with teaching
Though the approach I have described is the one we most follow,
it is NOT a prescription. It is one of many possible strategies for
integrating the disciplines of art in a lesson. Common sense and
the objectives of the lesson all should be considered when
planning the sequence of a lesson.
The whole issue of "copying" still apparently has no consensus.
In general, I do not think copying works of art has any real value.
The approach taken in DBAE has never been to promote copying in
any form. When we develop lessons and units for our institute,
we take great pains to suggest production activities that significantly
relate in an appropriate way to the works of art being studied.
If anyone would like to see examples of the kinds of lessons
I have described, take a look at the ArtLinks Lesson Summaries
in our newsletters on our web site:
Nancy Walkup, Project Coordinator
North Texas Institute for Educators on the Visual Arts
PO Box 5098, University of North Texas 76203
817/565-3986 FAX 817/565-4867