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Lesson Plans

Re: What makes an Artist?...Or, a Philosopher or an Educator, for that matter?

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Larry Seiler (
Sat, 13 Nov 1999 08:59:34 -0600

That said, I would be hard pressed to accept someone as being an Art
Educator who did not love the discipline as something that s/he was
involved in. And if s/he was not involved in it, how could s/he be
involved in the creative process? And if not involved in the creative
process, then how as an Artist?
Larry Parker

wow...much to dwell on.

I would say...that many artistically inclined people are also "thinking"
persons, and perhaps because of the isolation that a lifestyle of art
making demands. one does tend I think in time to naturally withdraw from
an aesthetic-less culturally dead world, prefering to be alone with one's

Making art is a good distinctive of an artist, but the pool from which
creativity stems is often a deep seated need to communicate. In a
sense...there can develop the ethicist, commentor,
etc., whereby the making of art becomes a channel or release. I add this
to your comments because I don't feel totally comfortable feeling that that
which makes me tick as an artist and thereby an artist deservedly can
categorically be defined as one that "makes art", but perhaps as one with
enough "cause" to engage in the discipline of making art.

Overall, I appreciate much of what you've said.

In hindsight, after speaking with a college professor of art recently...I
wonder if a pattern may not exist in art ed philosophy that may be
worthwhile for others to comment upon.

In the late 70's, administrators were receiving hundreds of applications
for vacancy positions. I remember that competitively one had to stand out.
I began my pursuit of art competitions intially for such reasons. This
was a period of "Artist/teacher". You had to have been proven in at least
one area discipline. An individual that without question could be viewed
amongst a school board as evidence...proof positive of their having picked
the best person.

Then in the hype of the emerging multiculturalism movement came fears that
the "artist" teacher would possess by virtue of his/her preferred medium
and style a bias that would unfairly prevent students from a broad exposure
to all art history, mediums, etc; I believe at that time DBAE as a
movement was fueled.

I taught for a number of years as the "artist" teacher...but in the era of
tightening budgets putting tenure just out of reach, I encountered from
there a decade's prejudice against the "artist teacher" person. It was my
observation through about 8 years of my abandonment thereafter, and through
substitute teaching for five different school districts- that few if any
art teachers professed to actually making any art. The teacher of that
philosophy was a facilitator that worked his/her very hardest at
maintaining a conscientious effort to refrain from being any kind of
influence upon the student's ultimate choosing or artistic preferences.

The good that I see coming out of that movement was a sense that more
emphasis had to be put upon aesthetics, art history..etc., and not just art
making. However, my personal opinion is that excellence is not born of the
incapicity for knowing. It is hard to develop potential, that is as a
"wayshower" when one has been enculturated to be a floor clerk for the
arts. However, I'm sure that developing the potential of students was
seen as showing partiality toward the "gifted." By keeping everything at a
level that guaranteed everyone's potential for success (mediocrity), one
proved a program to not be discriminating. What I see as ironic was the
discrimination against artist/teacher by the assumption such an individual
could not maintain a pluralistic understanding and provide fairness for
students. Discrimination by a system poised to eliminate discrimination.

Recently...I've seen a new movement or emphasis, (or is it not new at
all???) in what I think is called "Production Based Art Education." I
wonder if others have some understanding and insight on this system, and
could share. I think it is an educational philosophy that believes that
distinct evaluative measures can be instituted to guide the student's
artistic skills potential to higher levels. Evidently, an idea that that
which separates "good" art from bad (in terms of craftsmanship or skill)
might actually be capable of being understood in the arts. Now...could
anything be more controversial???

Larry Seiler
WetCanvas Artists page-

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