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Lesson Plans

Re: JAMES H. SANDERS response

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Sandra Hildreth (shildret)
Fri, 16 Feb 1996 23:38:36 -0500

Mr. Saunders,

I feel you replied very arrogantly to Ms. Ruiz's statements about the
universal language of art. While there certainly have been images/art
created throughout time that have universal appeal and message, there are
also many that require the lens of culture to understand. For example, I
have made it a personal crusade as a high school art teacher to help my
students, and colleagues, overcome their lack of understanding or
appreciation for contemporary art. I was just sick and tired of comments
about artists like Jackson Pollack - "my 3 year old could paint better than
that", "what a bunch of garbage - you call that art?", etc.. And it happens
with art from other time periods and cultures as well. The key to helping
people understand is to provide them with critical analysis tools. I find
both students and adults can make progress in this area when I take a
simple approach and use the 4 steps of description, analysis,
interpretation, and judgement. I guide my students through practice
description activities - first with easily recognizeable, realists works,
then with abstract ones. They really don't know how to look at art - what
to look for. So we carefully explore subject matter and content. Then we
analyze the artists' use of the visual elements and principles of design.
We try to indentify "style" or movement, and review the historical,
political, economic, and religious events that influenced the artists of
that "style". Then we try to interpret the work of art - what we see in it
personally, as well as how it has been interpreted by Art historians.
Finally, I encourage my students to make personal judgements - not just
whether they like a work of art or not, but what they like or dislike about
it, in terms of subject matter/content, use of visual elements and
principles of design, "style", and what kind of mood, or meaning they get
from it. This is a most helpful way of encouraging understanding of
non-western art forms as well. You can't separate art from culture. They
are intertwined and both need to be considered when critically viewing art.
And our post-modern creations are no exception - they are as much a result
of the turbulent times and events of the 20th century as they are of the
collective centuries of art that preceeded their creation.

Sandy Hildreth <shildret>
7-12 Art, Madrid-Waddington Central School, Madrid, NY 13660
Art Methods, St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY 13617