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[teacherartexchange] What are "we" doing wrong - Plus homework suggestion for middle school


From: Judy Decker (jdecker4art_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sat Oct 22 2011 - 08:37:37 PDT

Greetings Art Educators,

I am doing two posts in one. An Art Education list member needs
homework suggestions for middle school (homework at the bottom of this

I was just writing to a list member lamenting how "ordinary"
everything is now at Pier 1 and even Ten Thousand Villages items are
becoming more and more "ordinary" looking. Why doesn't extraordinary
sell anymore? What are art teachers across our country not doing? Why
aren't people flocking to the stores to BUY beautiful things made by
others? Not all students will grow up to be great artists - but they
can certainly appreciate beautiful art. I use to volunteer at a Ten
Thousand Villages near by and was thrilled when former students of
mine would come in to BUY art - looking for something interesting and

My home is filled with beautiful things made by people around the
world and as many of you know, a lot from Africa. I always took my
cultural treasures in to enhance my art lessons. No, we didn't copy
the art of others, but used it for inspiration. Much of my own
personal art has African influence....and now so does much of my
jewelry. Oh the stories they could tell..... I am using beads from
Africa Direct (also Tibetan beads and pendants from Africa Direct).
Some day, I will get server space on Princeton Online again so I can
share them with you.

I am not a great artist - never have been - but I certainly do
appreciate art and the beautiful things others make. Each year, my
husband and I go to Ann Arbor Art Fair to BUY art. Last year, it was
one of Valerie Bunnell's ceramic dolls - this year it was a Retablo
from an artist we both admired for years- Nicario Jimenez - from Peru
- now living in Florida.

Do you share with your students the beautiful things you buy? Do you
model art appreciation? Do you model passion for art?

Now for the homework assignments..... Have students look for beautiful
hand made items in their environment. Art IS a part of our daily
lives. Have them find something hand made and write about it. If they
can not find anything handmade in their home, how about a local museum
(like an antique embroidery or hair wreath -- something displayed that
is hand made). It may be hard to find something handmade in local
stores (as I said, even Pier 1 is pretty ordinary now - more mass
produced like Hobby Lobby). Art is a part of all things we use.
Someone designed it. Have them write about something that they use and
the way it was designed. Look at what their parents have chosen to put
on the walls of their home - Interview their mother/father and find
out why they selected that piece (even if mass produced print from
Home Interiors and the like). Have them look for beauty in the
buildings around them.... have them look for beauty in the fabrics of
their clothing....etc etc. This was ALL part of DBAE when it started.
Where have art teachers gone a stray? Their "homework" can literally
be about their HOME (smile). Not all homework has to be drawing
something. I could never have my students create sketchbooks as I
don't even keep up my own sketchbook (I do have sketchbooks - filled
with many blank pages and only a few drawings). Yes, I always made my
students sketch a pot or sculpture to plan before they made it - but
even that is something I never did. I worked from an idea in my head.
With my jewelry now, sketching first would be of little value to me. I
need to see it all put together - then tweak - and re-tweak if needed.


Judy Decker

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