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Hi EJB in NY:
You ask some deep questions and ones that are not easily answered. But
very interesting and thought provoking ones, indeed. What is the task of Art
Education in the task of constructing a world and for students, constructing
a self? Also; What kinds of reflection and art making or observing should we
I teach high school art on the Introductory level in a rural but changing
small town. A lot of my students are what you might call (without sounding
elitist), culturally illiterate. They have not heard of Franz Marc, whom you
mentioned, or even Van Gogh, for that matter. One of my missions is to
present great artists of the past to students, inspire them and make them
aware of the possibilities. I have also often seen my task as increasing
their mathematical/spatial skills and verbal/conceptual skills. That is, so
many students today are really deficient readers and poor at math. As you
know, they're often placed in art classes to increase their chances of
graduating. Sometimes we'll do projects where there is a lot of measuring and
use of protractors and compasses, based on Islamic Art. It still surprises me
how many high school students cannot read a ruler. In other assignments, I'll
have them write about the idea that they're trying to express in their piece.
I'd really like to get students to be more expressive in their art work,
that is, to express their feelings more. Teenagers are incredibly creative.
They take more of an interest in work that pertains to themselves, a personal
expression. In this sense, I've had students work on expressive line drawings
where they compose a drawing using line and value to express five emotions or
feelings (love, fear, sadness, etc.). They choose. I usually get some great,
very detailed drawings that look like abstract B/W paintings. But, I'm still
working on getting students to express themselves more, constructing a self,
like you say.
Dennis in Stockton, CA
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