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Lesson Plans

art & ecology

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
elizabeth garber (egarber)
Fri, 24 Oct 1997 17:12:48 -0700

Robert Beeching asks if arted doesn't seem to be about "everything but 'art
training,'" continuing "are we still using art as a vehicle for decorating
social studies units, and 'game' days?"

Art is more than design and materials, although these are important. We can
teach both design and materials and the development of ideas. To use a
metaphor that seems similar to what you have posed, Robert, I refer to the
way most ceramics teachers teach glazing and potting skills. We don't throw
away all those early pots, learning only to glaze when we throw a wonderful
pot. We learn both at the same time. I am saying that we can learn
mataerials and design while we learn to develop ideas. If we learn great
skills but haven't worked on the development of what we want to say, we'll
be making vacuous art--and so it goes in teaching.

Most contemporary art is about ideas. It is often about medium too, and
sometimes skill. Even artists who seem to be in love with paint or the
photograph often have a love of and understand their actions within the art
world and within contemporary culture.

Now apply this to what you have been reading on the web about ecology and
life-centered issues. Helen and Newton Harrison, in the early 1970s and
influenced by Minimalism, once said that Minimalists picked one idea and
developed it in their work. They decided that their idea might as well be
significant, and they picked ecology. Why not?

In terms of teacher education, I hope our students have a strong grounding
in art, and I am working with my colleagues at the university where I teach
to make sure this is the case. But I hope they have ideas and commitments

Elizabeth Garber

Date: Mon, 20 Oct 1997 14:08:36 -0700
From: Robert Beeching <robprod> Subject: EVERYTHING BUT ART

Everything but "art training"; is this what "arted" is all about? It's like
making music without learning to play an instrument; it's like playing with
math without knowing how to add; it's like writing without learning the
Are we still using art as a vehicle for decorating Social Studies units,
and "game" days? Or our we teaching children how to compose and design like
the artists we admire? It is a paradox that in the age of graphic design,
few even know how or why Mondrian produced his "space divisions." We seem
to be talking as though children come ready to draw, paint, and construct,
without ever wondering where they learned these techniques. We talk about
other cultures as though we can emulate their hard-earned craft. We
introduce "units" which we are not qualified to teach. We are using the
visual arts as adjuncts to psychology and sociology. But are we teaching
visual arts? Has anyone taught a child how the Chinese use the "round"
watercolor brush? Has anyone taught a
child the economy of "mass and line." Has anyone taught a child to "draw"
and not "scribble"?
What kinds of art are we teaching? Is there a difference between "ARTS" and
"CRAFTS"? Are we decorating or making visual statements? What is the
process/skill development here? What's the curriculum? Who's in charge? Is
anybody out there?
- ---------------rb

Elizabeth Garber, Ph.D. office phone: 520.621.9304
Associate Professor of Art fax: 520.621.2955
University of Arizona email: egarber
Department of Art, PO 210002 home phone: 520.740.1529

Tucson, AZ 85721.0002