Monday, September 23, 2013
Assignment: (Lesson 4) Reading Review.
Teaching art through a basic formula of analysis will provide a path to understanding the big ideas behind works of art. That all art is first intellectual and a study of the resulting aesthetics can lead to the thought behind a work. Asking some basic questions as to what social and historic environment produced the inspiration for a work can give it a context. Employing the techniques of art critiques and art historians in a classroom setting will place a foundation for understanding and eventual appreciation of works of art. The stress is less on the techniques involved and more on the thought processes invested in the works. The example of a monumental work created to honor victims of the holocaust is given along with the notion, that without an understanding of what the holocaust was, the piece would have no impact.
The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts offers a curriculum pdf on its website through the educational portion of that site. The enduring idea is that the existing image of Native Americans needs to be wiped out. Acknowledging that these images are centuries old an continually re-enforced a gradual education program should be in place and that art appreciation can be the door to this new understanding. "That art might be used to present the idea that the Native perspective is one of intelligence and not somehow some state of under development," (Museum of Contemporary Native Arts website pg 4) is consistent with the notions of the chapter. It is stated that key to art understanding is that there is thought and intelligence behind every work of art, and the viewer and therefore the student is challenged to unlock that meaning or form their own. Either way it is an intellectual process that art analysis encourages. The Santa Fe example also focuses on a few works and picks them apart in much the same pattern suggested through out the chapter, so again consistent in content. The list on page 44 featuring a system for talking about art includes interpreting, describing and judging art, and is similar to elements of the Santa Fe lesson plan. A
I focused on the Coyote Shuffle Off to Buffalo Lesson from the Denver Art Museum. In comparing this lesson to the Santa Fe lesson it is concerned with the same goals in breaking down stereotypes but more activity based. The large goals claim to be invention, self-direction, critical thinking and collaboration. The exercises and discussions are to encourage kids to decide what self means. There is a section where the question of, "why was the art made?" is asked, similar to the art analysis plan on page 44 of the reading though not as in depth. The DAM plan is more consistent with traditional elementary art education (they even pull out the glitter later) and not fully in keeping with the ideas presented in the reading. B
The final review is of the National Gallery. In an attempt to find common ground the lesson plan related to White Cloud a Hero To His People was studied. It presents Native Americans as museum relics pieces of the distant past and as helpless savages. It was the only example I could find on the museum website that addresses Native issues. The lesson itself encourages the kids to dress up like an indian and ask what a hero is to them? think about the elements of the work, and talk about what they would wear today to impress someone. This seems a shallow and even racist program. Looking at the elements of the work is as close as we come to the themes of the current reading. F
Some of the examples in the reading are so in depth including field trips not often an option in todays teach from a cart art education environment that they seem a little pie in the sky really. Imaging though that these sort of fantasy elements could be reality I think the approach is fantastic. I was fortunate enough to spend a year studying in Italy. It really hit home after years of old faded slides to have a professor say today we are going to talk about Micheangelo and off we went to see the David (a few blocks away). If we can make connections it is more real for students. In some inner city school in West Phoenix even if there were funding for a field trip the collection at the local museum is so sorry it would be a waste of time. I think then the approach realistically would need be more research based, discovering art through doing, with a power point presentation or less reliance on actual works in the area. That said art can be where you find it there can be a lot learned from say kitsch, advertisements, or architectural elements when present. Examples of western kitsch, katchinas, cowboy fantasies etc.. are readily available and easy to access and may even speak more to the reality of living in the West. "Art obtains meaning through engagement, art is purposeful human endeavors," (pg. 42) to this end art can be interpreted in a very wide way. Further it is stated in numerous examples that perhaps some art is, "outside of the usual and aesthetic theory based in formalism would have little relevance." (pg 60).
One of my favorite experiences as an art student was a visit to a junkyard. I was searching for metal to do some pieces on and visited several salvage yards, and scrap metal dumps (one with a one eyed three legged mean little dog). At any rate here was a place that felt like an art installation everything arranged for viewing and walk ways. There was definitely intent an order to the place rows and rows of axles or radiators etc.. With my mind in creating mode, thinking in terms of sculpture the place seemed like one giant work. My point is that art appreciation can occur in non-art places with non-traditional media or intent. Old faded signs can be so beautiful, worn old gold rush buildings in Colorado, or natural history museums. I suppose what I am getting at is that in time of severe budget restrictions one should be creative and find ways to view and talk about art where you can.
(Stewart M. Walker S. 2005 Rethinking Curriculum in Art, pg 39-53)
Museum of Contemporary Native Arts http://www.iaia.edu/museum/