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Re: Didaction


From: wendy free (wendfree_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Mon May 20 2002 - 20:03:05 PDT

> I don't have time to theorize
> about making art - I'm too busy making it.

this brings to mind one of my favorite war stories. i was required to take
ceramics classes in college. i knew nothing about ceramics. my prof. told
us to "go make stuff" after demonstrating basic handbuilding and
wheelthrowing techniques. what i made was hideously ugly and earned me c's
(my worst grades by far). frustrated and humiliated, i vowed to never work
with clay again. four years later i was assigned to teach hs ceramics. i
panicked. over the summer i read every ceramics-related book i could get my
hands on - from the chemical composition of clays, physical changes that
take place during firing, building your own kiln - to the history of
porcelain and development of delftware and precolumbian vessels and
everthing else my large city library had to offer. after immersing myself
in all i could find about ceramics - the theory: science, history,
industry, contemporary movements... i fell in love with ceramics and
excitedly developed a curriculum that incorporated sharing the theory i had
learned together with studio work. i made beautiful pieces along with my
students. the next year ceramics class was so popular we had to add
another beginning section as well as an advanced one. i like to think my
enthusiasm was contagious. for me, though, it never would have happened
without learning ALL about ceramics and seeing it from all sorts of
viewpoints. the "theory" is what got me hooked. i'm not trying to make a
blanket statement; i realize some are able to just do through instinct or
skill or brilliance... but there are others, like me, who need all the whys
and wonderings and multiple perspectives to really be able to do something
well. i feel this way about artmaking and about teaching art. for me, the
theory and the doing are inseperable. hearing about theory inspires me to
try to put it into action, to test it out. making things causes me to think
about how they fit in to the big picture.