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Is Art A Class?

Cleansing the Palette, December 2012
by NAEA VA on 21 November 2012

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Transcript of Is Art A Class?

Where do you teach art? In a classroom?
Four walls.
A row of windows.
Banks of materials at one end. Maybe you display those
great thick art books. And maybe,
regardless of the resources you use,
art class feels like a part of the curriculum,
with grades at the end of the semester
and questions about whether that’s going to be on the test. Maybe you
go to a
museum. Which makes us wonder:
what are the resources outside of 4 walls
that can bring art deeply into your students’ lives? Are there public sculptures in your town?
What is their meaning for your community?
What do they stand for?
How does their symbolism for your students
differ from their original intent? Has your town changed from when they were originally erected?
Do they look back at your town’s past
or look forward toward an uncertain future? Do you have any murals stretched across buildings in your town?
What parts of town?
And what are they saying?
About community.
About social activism.
About children’s lives. What’s the architecture like in your town?
Are there identifiable periods?
Is there a particular aesthetic? Are there zoning or urban planning regulations
that dictate a certain architectural direction or limitation?
Do different neighborhoods have different architectural personalities?
And how does all this influence how your students look at and appreciate a building? The white paper, "Creative Placemaking," talks about how
imbuing a location with artifacts of creativity
changes the feeling and allure and the very livability of the place.
By decentralizing art,
taking it out of the museums and bringing it to the streets…
by turning downtown into a distinctive destination,
you can attract new business and more talented people.
Art begets artfulness
and even an art state of mind. So, how do you bring your students to an art state of mind?
Maybe you can bend their perspective by taking them outside.
Looking at one’s hometown as a “canvas”
rather than just a collection of buildings
would be an interesting place to start. Looking at neighborhoods as different works of art
that are parts of the same collection,
but representing different subject matter or points of view,
would be another way to change how students see the environment they live in
—and a different way to think about art. But the exciting prospect is how dramatically
you can shift the paradigm of how students think about art.
Ask your students: if this building were an artwork,
what artist does it remind you of?
Ask them: if we were to build our own version of this house
out of the materials in our classroom,
what materials would you use? Ask them questions that will make them think different about art— because that is the place of questioning that art starts from in the first place. Or maybe you can bend their perspective by keeping them inside, but thinking outside-the-box about what constitutes an “art state of mind” —and what you need to travel there. Ask your students: If there were a food you could eat to make you more creative, what would it taste like?Ask them: what do you find artful in this pencil sharpener? This desk?Your backpack? The point being that if we want students to get into an art state of mind, maybe we need them to stop thinking of art as a class.What do you think?
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