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Hign school and middle are appropriate places to so mat work as you
suggest below. Elementary school work is wholly different in many, many
ways. It is already difficult enough to deal with those who see children
as "artists" when they are not. Better to introduce parents to the real
world of art by hosting every year or so an exhibit by local artists
properly mounted, one for the kids as well.
On Sat, 27 Jan 1996, Terry Barrett wrote:
> By using colored mats and colored construction paper to display art by
> children, we are reinforcing school art practices that are different
> from professional art world practices. Art museums do not use
> construction paper or colored mats when displaying art works. White
> is the standard color for mats, especially for art made recently.
> Why should we differ from professionals' practices? Shouldn't we
> hang student art, when possible, in similar ways to those that
> galleries and museums hang art? Don't we want to bring school art
> practices closer to real life practices? Shouldn't we further
> dignify children's art works by labelling them with artist, title,
> date? Shouldn't we curate shows of children's work, that is organize
> it under some unifying ideas, and write wall texts to help viewers
> understand the context of the works? In these ways, we would be
> unobtrusively teaching students, teachers, and parents to become more
> familiar with practices in the art world beyond the confines of school
> corridors, and how to look at art in museums with an implied
> suggestion to interpret the work they see.
> Terry Barrett
As someone who has taught art to all grades, I disagree with the
suggestions that "elementary school work is wholly different in
many, many ways, and that children are not artists. Children may
not be the same as adult artists (and their work should not be
compared to that of adults), but I considered my elementary students
to be "artists" and repeatedly told them so. Many of them would
often initially say that they weren't, but they were repeating ideas
they got from adults.
Why should elementary students not be considered as child artists?
Cannot students create original and inventive art works
appropriate to their cognitive and physical development?
Why should children be compared to adult artists? How damaging it is
to a children's self confidence and self image to impart the
message that they are not artists?
Also, I believe that by matting and presenting children's art in the
manner of professional art world practices, we clearly illustrate to our
students that we consider their work to be valuable and worthy
of care and attention. I also tried to use the best art materials I could
obtain for both making art and displaying it and would explain that
fact to my students. Teachers impart so many value judgments,
both spoken and unspoken, that can be either encouraging or
discouraging to students. I vote for inclusion in the art world rather than
exclusion every time.
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