SchoolArts Magazine

Summer 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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8 SUMMER 2019 SchoolArts A D V O C A C Y T he end of my art students' four years is fast approaching and dis - cussion turns to a reflection of their experiences in the building. I tell them, "This has been your build - ing for several years. You have worked here, cried, sweated, and spend count - less hours of your life bound by every inch of the space. If there is a way to leave your mark, signifying you were here, how would you do it, and what would it say?" This is not an easy ques - tion because students generally reflect on the objects they make and not on the school building as a canvas for art. Exploring How Artists Use Space Exploration with students can begin with the ways contemporary artists have looked at space in buildings and outside in the community as larger fields for playing and innovation. Students admire the feats and adven - turous spirit of street artists such as Banksy, yarn-bombing artists, and JR. Students also enjoy the daring stories behind Guerilla art, and how artists such as Keri Smith alter environments. The secretive hide-and- seek aspects of street art appeals to students of all ages. Kiki Smith defines Guerilla art as "a fun and insidious way of sharing your vision with the world. It is a method of art mak - ing which entails leaving anonymous art pieces in a public place." Our Purpose In our project, I emphasized to students that the purpose of our art was not to leave a permanent mark on the build - ing, but to leave markers that generate a fresh awareness and, perhaps, a last - ing impression on classmates, faculty, and the entire school community. Altering the Space Contemporary artists have used the architectural elements of museum spaces, showing art on the floor and constructing forms descending from the ceiling. Artists today draw directly on museum walls, and place their work in elevators, stairways, or restrooms. They reshape entrances or move audiences through mazes to reexperience being in a gallery. As a class, we walked around our building and students made suggestions about how each space could be altered. We Leaving Their Marks Ilona Szekely simply looked for meaningful spots to spend time, sit and think about what to say or what to place into each space. After-School Installations Like most K–12 schools, the art in our building has been placed on bul - letin boards or protected inside glass cases. That was about to change. After school, students began to set up projects in the halls, bathrooms, lock - ers, and newly discovered areas. For example, an installation was placed in a stairwell using old textbooks chained and tied to the wall. Words taped to stairs unfolded poetic messages: "Even when you fall on your face, you are still moving forward." The art melded into the experience of being there, available for interaction and comment. Other student installations included whiteboard signs outside of studio classrooms where anyone could com - ment and doodle about the classes. An School art installations can challenge the notion of where art can exist. CONTINUED ON PAGE 41. Two after-school installations from departing seniors.

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