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Re: visual culture and basic art skills


From: henry taylor (tortolitascom_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu May 02 2002 - 12:41:26 PDT

> in my view, conceptual art - the art of ideas - can be thought of as near
> the top of a sort of art hierarchy. its almost...esoteric? -wendy

If you look back over the entire global history of aesthetic making wendy
Western Fine Art occupies a fairly tiny and esoteric cul de sac.

How many times have you heard a parent or even another teacher claim that
they "can't even draw a straight line" as if art were another one of those
"kids don't try this at home, leave it to professionals" kind of
categories. That's what our consumer/professional fine art culture has
wrought in the general populace.

you wrote:
> it is very difficult to make "idea art" that is successful in an aesthetic
> or communicative sense without a strong background in studio skills and art
> history/criticism.

Very difficult to enjoy or make sense of it to any depth as well without
that background. (and as an artist I do play with Conceptual Art myself)

> a more than basic knowledge of the
> history of art forms from diverse peoples and locales enables artists
> -and art students- to develop a personal repertoire of ways to express
> and be recognized and understood.

history of art... diverse peoples... Parks Canada has a classification set
of categories for their museums which has been widely adopted (and
adapted)for such cultural legacies. I've adapted it for my own Art Ed as
into a neat Cultural Alphabet set and decided I needed to add FOODS.
Anyways these seem to have been the basic "surfaces" upon which each
culture has expressed themselves aesthicically. Our Fine Art fits in under
communication and recreation for the most part. These categories encompass
the objects and ideas we humans use to determine and express our
identities and values both as individuals and as communities.

It used to be that in a rich and diverse culture everyone participated in
the aesthetic practices and made their contributions. It was real
democratic process to which everyone had access. Today in our consumer
culture a few focus groups are about the limit of popular participation
and democratic contribution. After that the corporations hand down our

We need to give our students technical skills and we also need to give
them a reason to gain them. We have the option of catering to an esoteric
class who will become fine artists or to find some way of leaving our
students with skills and needs that will stay with them as practical
skills throughout their lives.

Some proposals for VCAE do seem to leave out making art entirely and focus
almost exclusively on critique. It does seem to do a disservice to not
provide them with media skills

> i think the reason, when given freedom to create whatever
> they choose, students often draw pot leaves or cartoon characters or
> absolutely nothing, is that they either have a deficient store of visual
> possibilities to explore

Amen to that. Visual possibilities and basic representational conventions.