Art in the Classroom Part 2

Judging a work of art is not placing a value on it. It is simply a criticism. That word also throws some people. They feel a critic is a negative thing. Actually criticism is an informed explanation, and through it children learn to make their own informed judgements. But to do this they first need a basis. This basis comes from listening to artists or art historians talk about art. Then the children can practice criticism themselves by writing or talking about a work of art. Through this they can derive meaning form the art, understand visual arts better, and use this knowledge in their own art production.

There are actually four disciplines in the Discipline Based art education:

Aesthetics – contemplating the nature of art and its role in human experience

Art Criticism – describing, interpreting, and assessing art

Art History – understanding works of art in cultural and historical contexts

Production – making art.

The Aesthetician. Students begin to deal with the kinds of questions about issues such as: What is art? What is meant by “beautiful”? Why should we be concerned what the artist intended? How do we value art?

Although not directly addressed in the curricula, viewing and talking about works of art within the curriculum prepared and enables them to answer questions like those above. Aesthetic discussion is conducted at a level of abstraction. These are points of view, and there are no right or wrong answers.

Art Critic: in emulating an art critic, the student begins by describing the work and finding meaning in the art. The student builds a large store of art images and a broad knowledge base about art. Students encouraged to make judgments about their own work or the work studied should be encouraged also to provide reasons for their views. The method of scanning is employed as the children ask: What is there? How is the work organized? How is the work made?

Art Historian: The who, what, when, how and where the students find in the art work are able to discern its place in the scheme of history. These five questions help analyze, describe and interpret art works according to the style in which it is made, and according to the symbolism in the work as well as the actual history of the times in which it was made.

Artist: now the student is ready to emulate the artist. Now art has a meaning to them, and the artist as well. They learn about materials, acquire techniques, gain skills, and develop imagination in the creative process. The knowledge gained does not, of itself, produce significant work. It must be applied to a concept. The student who begins to learn the role of the artist addresses such questions of originality, techniques, craftsmanship, and process as: is this a new idea? What media shall I use to make this? Is my work done well and with care? How do I begin? How do I know when the work is finished?

A further step in carrying out this method of teaching art, is a portfolio program. Children save all their artwork in a portfolio. They write about their own art in three areas: making the art, their perception of it, and their thoughts about it.