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Lesson Plans


Re: Nancy Walkup's question -Reply

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Nancy Walkup (Walkup.EDU)
Mon, 12 Jan 1998 09:35:47 -0600


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Dear Maggie:

Thanks for sharing your concerns. One of the things I most disliked
about the article is that it dealt mostly with John Biggers as a black
man, rather than John Biggers as an artist. The ironic part of all
this is that Biggers work depicts the universal - values of family,
home, and community that all people share. He discusses this quite a
bit in the interview on The Web of Life, so you might want to read it
to gain more of the artist's perspective on these issues.

I, personally, am very much drawn to art that is rich in contextual
meaning. I always want to know as much as I can about an artist, and
that includes the culture in which it was created. Cultures are not
only ethnic or racial designations - for example, I think the world
depicted on television and in movies is our popular culture (and is
not necessarily based on truth or fact!).

I still think diverse cultures should be honored and respected and
allowed to speak for themselves whenever possible.

Respectfully,

Nancy

Nancy Walkup
Project Coordinator
North Texas Institute for Educators on the Visual Arts
PO Box 305100 University of North Texas
Denton, TX 76203
walkup
940.565.3986
FAX 940-565-4867

>>> Maggie White <mwhite> 01/09/98 10:13pm >>>
Nancy Walkup wrote:
>
> For me, the attitude of the article (which reads like fiction)
raises a number of
> questions about the broader implications. For example, how do we,
> as art teachers, best teach about artists of different cultures
> without being (unintentionally or otherwise) condescending or
promoting
> stereotypes? How can we present the most accurate and nonprejudicial
> portrayal of an artist? Should we interpret an artist's life (as I
feel the author
> of this article did) as well as his or her work? How much of an
> artist's life do we need to know to fully appreciate his or her
> work? What do you think about these issues?

Why is so important to label artists according to their ethnic
background? I teach on a
reservation, but I made a conscious decision years ago not to
differentiate among "women
artists", "Indian artists," "Black artists," etc. In my classroom,
art is art. If
we're looking at various ways artists have stylized their subject
matter, there will be
slides from many different time periods and cultures all mixed
together. I don't
mention an artist's race, cultural background, religion, sexual
orientation, or
psychological profile unless those issues are pertinent to our
discussion.

When my art history class is studying a particular time period, then
of course we delve
into the social and political makeup of the time, as art is never
created in a vacuum.
It's just that I think in the U.S. we have gone overboard with
labeling people according
to ethnic membership as a way of overcoming prejudice. We promote
stereotypes when we
assume all artists of a certain background have the same "vision" or
goals.

Personally, I think it is condescending to distinguish an artist's or
culture's works as
something separate from our own, as though it must be dealt with on a
different level.

Maggie**remove x in address to reply

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Date: Fri, 09 Jan 1998 22:13:46 -0600
From: Maggie White <mwhite>
To: artsednet.edu
Subject: Re: Nancy Walkup's question
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Nancy Walkup wrote:
>
> For me, the attitude of the article (which reads like fiction)
raises a number of
> questions about the broader implications. For example, how do we,
> as art teachers, best teach about artists of different cultures
> without being (unintentionally or otherwise) condescending or
promoting
> stereotypes? How can we present the most accurate and nonprejudicial
> portrayal of an artist? Should we interpret an artist's life (as I
feel the author
> of this article did) as well as his or her work? How much of an
> artist's life do we need to know to fully appreciate his or her
> work? What do you think about these issues?

Why is so important to label artists according to their ethnic
background? I teach on a
reservation, but I made a concious decision years ago not to
differentiate among "women
artists", "Indian artists," "Black artists," etc. In my classroom,
art is art. If
we're looking at various ways artists have stylized their subject
matter, there will be
slides from many different time periods and cultures all mixed
together. I don't
mention an artist's race, cultural background, religion, sexual
orientation, or
psychological profile unless those issues are pertinent to our
discussion.

When my art history class is studying a particular time period, then
of course we delve
into the social and political makeup of the time, as art is never
created in a vacuum.
It's just that I think in the U.S. we have gone overboard with
labeling people according
to ethnic membership as a way of overcoming prejudice. We promote
stereotypes when we
assume all artists of a certain background have the same "vision" or
goals.

Personally, I think it is condescending to distinguish an artist's or
culture's works as
something separate from our own, as though it must be dealt with on a
different level.

Maggie**remove x in address to reply

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  • Maybe reply: MegaSept: "Re: Re: Nancy Walkup's question -Reply"