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Lesson Plans

RE: Nancy-developing significant production activities

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Vance McSwain (vmcswain)
Thu, 18 Jul 1996 10:17:44 -0500

Nancy Walkup Wrote,
"I have read your criteria and wish to ask - is this a means to enable a =
student creat their own meaningful art or do your criteria simply =
promote second hand art ? As I believe we must be careful, I refer to =
Peter London's writtings in his book No More Second Hand Art, " Don't =
try to "capture" nature. It's like trying to capture the stars or =
butterfly - we can grab the body, but then we are left with the corpse =
and not the butterfly."


I enjoyed reading your comments. However, recently I am questioning some =
of the ideas I have long held as true. One of those is that representing =
a recognizable object in a very naturalistic way is usually undesirable. =

Much of the art I see in the major museums and exhibits has gotten so =
far away from the traditional crafts of painting, drawing, and =
sculpture, that it may actually be something other than studio art.=20

For example, some of the sculpture has the same materials and =
organization that some contemporary furniture and architecture has. =
Some of the performance art is actually theater. The installations are =
landscape architecture. In other words, the exploration of materials and =
textures, and shapes, etc. are wonderful as a starting point, but to =
stop at the exploration and call it a finished work is an easy way to =
"express yourself" without having to develop the skills necessary to =
create a qualtiy painting, sculpture or drawing or to carry your idea =
though to a quality design for industry or business. =20

As an art teacher, I find it much easier for students to "explore =
texture, or color" than to learn to paint a recognizable piece of silk =
drapery or draw the human figure in porportion. I also find the more a =
work of art displays a skill and ability to represent a recognizable =
object the more readily students accept the work as valid. I find the =
only students that really buy into abstract expressionism, for example, =
are those students that tend to reject any criteria for creating a =
quality work in art, english or in any other subject.=20

I know what I am saying is counter to contemporary thought, however, I =
believe much of what I see as contemporary art could fit in other =
categories. However, many times the artist would need additional =
training to become skilled in the area. For example, an artists selects =
a wall of a museum and paints it a particular color to create a feeling =
or emotion.This is not a painting, it is interior design and is exactly =
why interior designers choose colors for the walls, to help create a =
mood within the room. If the intent of the artist is to make some sort =
of statement about art museums or the art market, then he or she needs =
to write an editorial that more elegantly expresses the idea. Of course, =
the artists would need to learn to express himself in writting.

In other words, all the exploration and risk taking is great. But it =
needs to lead to something other than experimental, unresolved painting =
and sculpture. Every type of career involving the use of the elements =
and principles of design can be raised to an "art form" but that doesn't =
automatically make it a successful example of fine art painting or =
sculpture even if a collector, critic, or museum spend a great deal of =
time trying to convince people it is "important art."=20

I have already asked you to read too much so I will end by asking if you =
have had similar thoughts when seeing art that emphasises design, =
process, emotion, or concept over the traditional skills associated with =
the crafts of painting, drawing, or sculpting?

Vance McSwain