SchoolArts Magazine

APR 2019

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Editor's Letter D o you find that your students are open to interpretation? Are they open to being art critics about their own and other works of art? When ini - tially introduced to art criticism, some may associate negative connota- tions with the word "criticism." Art criticism, in practice, though, is gen- erally positive and focuses on interpretation. In the simplest of terms, to interpret a work of art is to explain the meaning of it. Meaningful interpretations require defensible, supportive reasons for the judgment, far beyond likes or dislikes. Interpretation of individual works of art is of foremost concern in contem- porary art criticism. In Practical Art Criticism, published in 1993, Edmund Feldman developed a sequential approach to art criticism based on description, analysis, interpretation, and judgment or evaluation that is still used today. Terry Barrett, renowned author, artist, art educator, and professor emeritus from Ohio State University, bases his approach to art criticism on the four activities of describing, interpreting, judging, and theorizing about art. Barrett suggests that, though all four overlap, "Interpretation is the most important activity of criticism, and probably the most complex." His Principles of Inter- pretation, included in the sidebar to the right, offer many concepts to inspire meaningful discussions with your students. The value of including art interpretation in your curriculum is also sup- ported by the National Visual Art Standards in the Artistic Processes of Responding: Understanding and evaluating how the arts convey meaning; and Presenting: Interpreting and sharing artistic work. The anchor standards, enduring understandings, and essential questions available for these processes can help you plan meaningful experiences for your students. By engaging in the process of art criticism, your students can become open to interpretation. Many thanks for contributing to this issue go to co-editor Frank Juarez. Frank, who wears many hats (art teacher, artist, photographer, gallery owner), is the head of the art department at Sheboygan North High School in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and a contributing editor for SchoolArts. Terry Barrett's Principles of Interpretation • Artworks are alwa s about something. • Subject Matter + Medium + Form + Contexts = Meanings. • To interpret a work of art is to understand it in language. • Feelings are guides to interpretation. • The critical activities of describing, anal zing, interpreting, judging, and theorizing about works of art are interrelated and interdependent. • Artworks attract multiple interpretations, and it is not the goal of interpretation to arrive at single, grand, unified, composite interpretations. • Some interpretations are better than others. • There is a range of interpretations an artwork will allow. • Meanings of artworks are not limited to what their artists meant them to be about. • Interpretations are not so much right, but are more or less reasonable, convincing, informative, and enlightening. • Good interpretations of art tell more about the artwork than the tell about the interpreter. • The objects of interpretations are artworks, not artists. • All works of art are in part about the world in which the merged. • All works of art are in part about other art. • Good interpretations have coherence, correspondence, and completeness. • Interpreting art is an endeavor that is both individual and communal. • The admissibilit f an interpretation is determined b ommunit f interpreters and the communit s self-correcting. • Good interpretations invite us to see for ourselves and continue on our own. Terr Barrett, CRITS: A Student Manual, (London: Bloomsbur , 2019), 105–106. Visit Follow me on Careful thought must be given to interpreting cultural images. Those pictured here were painted on the side of a trading post in Albuquerque. SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 3

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