>So my question is-- Art has always been considered a solitary pursuit, It's individual. It's sometimes consuming. How do I compensate for the student that wants no part of the group -- because that would have been me.
Patty, thanks so much for your excellent examples of peer learning. I was hoping you would be inspired to share your ideas and practices.
Yes, I agree that art, is often a solitary pursuit. When I was teaching full-time, I got so much interaction with students and colleagues that it was particularly rewarding (and productive) to get a little time in the summer to be isolated and immersed in my own studio.
In Malchom Gladwell's recent article, "In The Air: who says big ideas are rare." (May 12 NEW YORKER, pg 50-60) he tells about many noteworthy examples of team efforts in the invention process, but he also says that in art it may not be appropriate, ". . (team effort) is clearly not true of artistic geniuses . . . You can't pool the talents of a dozen Salieris and get Mozart's Reqiuem. You can't put together a committee of talented art students and get Matisse's "La Danse." . . . Shakespeare owned Hamlet because he created him, as none other before or since could."
To what extent might this be related to the degree of expertise (is learning art the same as than being an artist)? Might some artists thrive on a combination of isolation and interdependent collaboration? Do not nearly all isolated studio artists remain connected to peers with whom they discuss, argue, and compete in some meaningful ways? Does this have anything to do with the particular art form? Are some kinds of art or some phases of the art process that seem better for individual work and other kinds of art and phases of the process that seem more suited to peer interaction? Are beginning art students best served by learning the joys of isolated creativity or do they need the mentorship of slightly more advanced artists? How much of this is a matter of individual student personality rather than something we can generalize about learning art?