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When I read your post, I wondered: Is the student exhibiting signs of
distress by "acting out" in inappropriate ways or by choosing to isolate
herself socially? In other words, is her behavior extreme in any
direction? Or is it just different than most, which makes it stand out.
I ask, because those behaviors would concern me moreso than a drawing or
series of drawings that seem moody. In some schools, this form of
expression is the "norm" for many teens and does not signal a disaster
in the making.
Anyway, in our district, the social workers in the building would get
involved with such a student if the teacher requested it. The request is
made based on types of anti-social and/or repeated, inappropriate
behavior, attendance problems, or some other pattern that interferes
with the student's learning or the learning of others. It would never be
made on the basis of art work alone.
What art concepts should your student be learning? Do your students have
so much freedom with subject matter that allows for the repitition of
symbols or similar moods in their work? What about assigning a graphic
piece (a poster, a public service announcement, a three-fold-brochure,
an advertisement for a new business) that emphasizes a positive,
visually communicated message? Students could role play "graphic
designers" and create this piece in small groups. This assignment and/or
group interaction might show you another side of this student, and it
Often when students choose questionable subject matter (most common
where I teach: gang symbols or font styles associated with gangs), I ask
them how the use of that imagery or font fits the assignment: if they
can't justify it, it goes, and the student is redirected toward
demonstrating their understanding of the lesson concepts. (So far, no
student has been able to justify the inclusion of such material.)
Your student's "I wish" response does not suffice as a form of artistic
intent, in my classroom anyway. By asking them to justify/ explain/ tell
you how the inclusion of the questionable subject matter is related to
the lesson concept, you're not being threatening, or saying "that's not
allowed!" in an authoritarian tone. You're just trying to keep the
student on task. Know what I mean?
> Hi all!
> I have a concern that maybe you can help with. I have a student who
> is artistic but her drawings are dark and mysterious. Even a program
> design she did for drama class was rather evil looking. Now we are
> weaving and her tapestry design is the "Anarchy" sign. I asked if
> that was a band's logo, and she said she wished and that was all that
> was said on the subject. Yesterday they found the Anarchist's
> Cookbook in her bookbag.
> What do you think?
> Joy in the Carolinas