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Lesson Plans

Re: More on mats

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
henry (taylorh)
Mon, 29 Jan 1996 12:41:04 -0700 (MST)

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.

This raises several possible threads.

The first thought that came to mind is the notion of "Professional
Practices" as-if some decree were in force in the arts such as the old
Beau Arts tradition. I would admit that "professionalism" is very popular
at the moment in many discourses. I find it unnecessarily restrictive
personally, but must acknowledge that some folks flourish under such a

The next notion is the "art world". Which art world? --Well, in this case,
"The Professional Art World", obviously. It is both interesting and
important, I think, to note the distinctions in play here. We do have the
option to subsume the child's art world into the Professional Art World,
perhaps on an equal footing with equal valuation or perhaps as a subset
as a "proto-professional" effort. Any number of possibilities come to mind.
But, IS there a singular professional art world that we all agree on?

As we face issues of multiculturalism we sometimes face a plurality of
worlds, or, in this case "art-worlds". The professional art world often
presses us to accept its dominance and significance. I don't know that it
is required tho unless we wish to enter and join that world/culture.
Aside from the professional art world there might be, as noted, a childs
art world, an indigenous art world, and outsider art world, a counter
(culture) art world, a "high art" world... any other nominations?

Certainly, we need to consider the offerings from the professional art world.
Certainly, we EACH need to come to our own resolution of the issues involved.
So, given that different practices ARE reinforced depending on the values
we hold relative to art; ought ONE system of practices predominate?
What do you think?

> Art museums do not use construction paper or colored mats when
> displaying art works.

Art museums use archival materials and serve diverse populations who come to
examine the art for various purposes, and in terms of various
professions. Elementary schools have more limited bugetary constraints
and serve a different population with differing expectations. It MAY be
that these differing ecologies have distinct requirements; it MAY NOT be
the case, as well. What do you think?

> White is the standard color for mats, especially for art made recently.

The notation on recent art could be significant... standards change to
reflect social tastes, professional requirements, etc. It is good, I
think, to make arguments on any side of the issue--not necessarily to
establish a single standard but to remind folks of the many options
available for consideration.

> 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?

I don't know Terry. Why should practices in the arts differ from those in
place in business, science, military agencies, or technology? Are
practices determined from the top down, by fiat? Or could they be
determined in response to "local needs". I like local needs myself tho I
appreciate work done under the constraints of many domains. I cannot think
of any reason why you shouldn't display children's art in the manner and
for the reasons you describe above. I also see no reason why colored mats,
or for that matter, sheets of newspaper: ads, articles and all, couldn't
provide an apropriate surface to mount art on.

All in all this discussion suggests a possible lesson plan in the
exploration of differing standards and needs in the consideration of the
display of art. "Why" certain contexts demand certain modalities in the
display of art. Anyone out there want to put such a curriculum together
and share it?

> 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.

"Unobtrusively" is right! Inculcating the "right" way to do things. So
much depends on HOW we choose to do things--unobtrusively or obviously.
An ecology of any sort is a complex structure or system and not a
monoculture. I suspect that art education can withstand any number of
models of art presentation. I like 'em all.

tell me more!!