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RE: What is abstract art?


From: Kimberly Herbert (kimberly_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Mar 10 2001 - 20:07:05 PST

I have found elementary kids are much more open to different forms of art
that the adults. We had Chi Watts a couple of years ago. The adults had the
usual "its not art" response. The kids first question was "does she do
calligraphy (sometimes referred to as that fancy writing on wedding things)
or "Does she know how to write in Japanese/Chinese?". I thought both
questions were very insightful. Chi was born and raised in Beijing. In her
artist statement (on the title panel but the kids did not read it) she talks
about how she uses the similar brush strokes as she was taught in
calligraphy in her artwork. BTW the kids did ID the writing as Japanese more
frequently than Chinese understandable since many have been stationed there
in the US Military bases. Goodfellow AFB has personnel from all US branches
training in languages, intelligence, and firefighting.

Kimberly Herbert (
CAM Administrator
San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts/Children's Art Museum

-----Original Message-----
From: KPRS []
Sent: Saturday, March 10, 2001 7:28 AM
To: ArtsEdNet Talk
Subject: What is abstract art?

Hi All
  I am enjoying the conversations on teaching abstract art to the little
ones. I also commend and admire those of you who work with the K-8's
and introduce art history/styles and periods into your curriculum. So
many times the 'reaching back into time' gets pushed out for 'product'.
   I also want to say that not all non representational art is abstract
art according to my definitions, and I was wondering what the words
"abstract art" mean to those of you who teach it. To me, "abstract art"
means the abstraction of an "idea", and the word "idea" implies a thesis
statement. In other words, if I wanted to make an 'abstract art' of a
'chair', this painting (for example), must contain elements of what a
"chair" is (rungs, seat, back, arms, spindles, etc), and what my
intention is for that chair. A thesis statement could be: I intend to
make a painting about the deterent value of the electric chair, which
would be a far different abstract painting than the thesis statement: I
intend to make a painting about the responsibilitiy of sitting on the
Throne of England. Now, while one might think that thesis statements
might be a little harder for the younger set, I think they could be able
to actually make their own thesis statements for example on two chairs
they are familiar with, a highchair, versus a classroom chair. Non
representational art, and abstract expressionism, while they may have
strong emotional impact, are not necessarily tied to a "thing" or

   San D