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What a wonderful way to teach Picasso. Perhaps if my Picasso lessons
were brimming with content like the one you describe, I would not be
reconsidering my approaches to art education. I love your approach. This
is definately the way it should be taught. And, yes I would agree that the
issues you address in this lesson would qualify as issues relating to
social reform. War and outrage against Fascism are certainly weighty topics
of discussion in an art class, or any class for that matter.
I must also keep in mind that what might be considered "old hat" to me, may
be something fresh and new to my students.
In addition to going beyond a formalist approach to teaching art, I would
like to try to expand my choices beyond Janson's "History of Western Art"
to the less visible, under-represented artists and cultures. First, I need
to take some time to learn more about them, myself, then I may proceed. I
suspect that this will be a long process but, I am at the beginning of my
career so I do have time to rearrange my methods and aquire new knowledge
to pass on to my students...Anyway, I thank you for your imput. I enjoyed
hearing about your approach!
University of Illinois
In response to"Should we teach social reform?, or stick to what we know..."
It is interesting that you chose Picasso in terms of"old hat" what we know
When I teach Picasso, as with GUERNICA his work is introduced in terms of
the larger theme of a "Humankind's Reaction to War". His monumental work
was a gut level scream of outrage against Fascism and modern
war...indiscriminate slaughter of women and children.....! This response by
an artist, and our views of his work today, are certainly issues worth
studying, and yes...we can dare call it social reform! In a production
activity examining the pure outrage Picasso must have felt, I might ask
students to explore a social issue that moves them emotionally...either to
anger, tears, horror..etc..and why? Then respond to that issue visually,
with a variety of media to choose from, and lack of restriction to size
requirements. It would be interesting to see what students get "fired up "
about. Does this not address the issue you mentioned, and does not art
express it in a way no other medium can? We MUST remember WHY most art was
created, and not forget that it is still a powerful form of communication!