Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The future of art education

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Portrait of mom wearing her knit shirt and socks
with her painting behind her
by Vincenzo (6yr old)
I've been thinking a lot about art education lately and I feel that not all art education is equal. Some theories posit that kids need to be told step-by-step how to complete a project. But this only teaches them, or expects them, to follow rules or steps in a process designed by someone else, which is also teaching them that there is one correct outcome for their art. This view is limiting and detrimental to the creative growth of the child.

Children (most people, really) need a safe and supportive environment that allows them to experiment and play in order to feel creative. If children are taught some very basic techniques about how an art material works --> pencils makes different marks on paper depending on how you use them... then they are given the freedom to experiment, without judgement, and they can soar in creativity.

Let children use their own life experience as a catalyst for their art. Encourage scribbling and playing with materials (within reason, no one wants paint thrown around the room). Lines, shapes, and colors without a recognizable subject matter is great! Kids just need the supplies and freedom to create.

Some kids may need a little more structure. As parents and/or teachers we can make suggestions, or work on a project together asking the child to decide on elements of the project. I have seen a lot of well-meaning adults or older siblings tell a young child how to draw, "no, do it like this", which basically means there is a right and wrong way to make art. There is no right or wrong way to make art! (professional artists is a different story altogether). The child may just need a little direction in terms of a theme. I remember times when working with students who wanted to create a picture but couldn't think of a subject - I would ask them, "what do you like to do at home? with friends? at recess? what toys do you like to play with?" and so on. Eventually a question would resonate with the student and their face lit up with "oh! I know what to do!" The excitement is amazing and they are much more engaged in their work because it has meaning for them. Kids are so often told what to do all day, every day - they should have some freedom and feel ownership when being creative.
rolling shutter technique with iphone by Grace (9yr old)

sparkler light trail photo

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

experimenting with some jewelry...

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I am making this series of jewelry by recycling materials in my studio: pieces of sterling silver left over from other projects, yarn, buttons, beads, a rubber band... it's all combing to make interesting compositions.

necklace with crocheted sterling silver and beads

ring made from recycled things in my studio: sterling silver, button, glass beads, rubber band

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