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Lesson Plans

Re: CELEBRATING PLURALISM and appropriation.

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Nancy Walkup (walkup)
Tue, 11 Feb 1997 08:39:35 CST6CDT

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> Date: Mon, 10 Feb 1997 21:19:58 -0700
> To: carla harwitt <>, artsednet
> From: Becky Alexander <Bekalex>
> Subject: Re: CELEBRATING PLURALISM and appropriation.

> Dear Graeme,
> It is with no small amount of trepidation that I put my thoughts out to the
> list, but...
> It seems to me that most of today's artwork is the result of
> appropriation/influence. Van Gogh was influenced by Japanese artwork as
> was Frank Lloyd Wright. Diego Rivera studied in Europe with the
> Impressionists along with Mary Cassatt. Kandinsky drew from African art.
> Christo has exhibited almost world-wide! This list could go on.....
> It is hard for me to tell the difference between the work of a 1990's
> American artist and that of an Asian or Native American one (unless they
> are doing their traditional styles deliberately or are a genuine folk
> artist).
> Art is not produced in a vaccuum but by the interaction of thoughts, ideas,
> and feelings expressed (communicated) in material form. Most of the world
> today seems to share a common culture. Industry, commercialization and
> communication technologies are minimizing true cultural differences as we
> have understood them (I did not say they are obsolete!)
> We are becoming a village. For this reason I am proud and excited to try
> the styles and forms that come to my attention. I try to instill a respect
> in my students for the creative process as well as the product and
> certainly for the culture(s) from which it originates. Unless I am
> convinced otherwise I/we will continue to try "new" ideas, approaches,
> forms, styles, etc.
> Becky Alexander
> >Dear Graeme,
> >
> >I would be very interested in your reply to my concerns about setting up
> >walls between people and stifling communication when we begin to view
> >learning by emulation as inappropriate unless you are actually part of
> >that particular culture. Isn't a white child making a pinata (sorry-don't
> >know how to write an "nye" in this typeface!), or a Hispanic child singing
> >"Ride the Chariot" (a Negro spiritual) in a school choral concert, or
> >Whoopi Goldberg playing Pseudolus (a male Greek slave character created by
> >Plautus in Ancient Rome) on Broadway, a way of creating empathy for other
> >cultures? I'm really puzzled about why this is considered by you and some
> >others to be a problem?
> >
> >--Carla in LA
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >On Mon, 10 Feb 1997, Graeme Chalmers wrote:
> >
> >> Thanks to Cecilia, Nancy, James, Jeff and others for their thoughful
> >> insights. Perhaps Kim Sherman sent us the most appropriate quote:
> >>
> >> "Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you,
> >> they're supposed to help you discover who you are."
> >>
> >> Bernice Johnson Reagon
> >>
> >> and I would add: "Who others are."
> >>
> >> Graeme Chalmers
> >> Graduate Adviser
> >> Department of Curriculum Studies
> >> University of British Columbia
> >> Vancouver, B.C.
> >> Canada V6T 1Z4
> >>
> >> Tel: 604 822-4842
> >> Fax: 604 822-9366

I am glad that so many people are participating in this
discussion, as it concerns many issues critical to contemporary
art education.

My personal belief is that a deliberate or acknowledged appropriation is
different than copying an artwork, style, or technique. I also
think we need to offer opportunities for students to develop
empathy for others. Exploring works of art from different cultures based
on the same themes helps students see that as human beings,
we share commonalities, yet may express them in different ways.

All these issues we are exploring can be raised with
students through critical and aesthetic discussion. We don't
always have to have the "answers" either. Questions tend to
encourage critical thinking more than answers.


Nancy Walkup, Project Coordinator
North Texas Institute for Educators on the Visual Arts
PO Box 5098, University of North Texas
Denton, TX 76203
817/565-3986 FAX 817/565-4867

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