SchoolArts Magazine

SEP 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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O ne of my favorite things to do is to read junior-level novels. One series of junior books lead me down the path of art appreciation. Blue Balliett has writ - ten three novels in which the protag- onists are three kids on the fringes of their peer group. The trio encounter mysteries based on famous artists. Book one features Vermeer; book two, Frank Lloyd Wright; and book three, Banksy and Alexander Calder. I was unfamiliar with Calder's work before reading The Calder Game (Scholastic, 2010). Art to Surprise One excerpt from the book that par- ticularly piqued my interest was a passage from a review of a Calder installation: An exhibit not to be missed, this show speaks to people of all income brackets, races, and ages. Shifting continuously, each of these mobiles weaves a spell, a long story that no one will ever witness again—not in exactly the same way. There are no rules here, no beginnings and no ends. Perhaps Calder's secret lies in the idea that each mobile is, truly, a metaphor for the experience of living, for the interconnected movement of separate elements that make up a life. Each mobile tells us to stop, to won- der, to wonder some more, and to cel- ebrate. This is art that will surprise again and again. While taking a professional development course, I was presented with the opportunity to develop a metaphor for art education. The preceding quote quickly popped into mind. What better way to explain art education than by using art itself? Everything Connects Education is a dynamic process, constantly chang - ing and moving, just like Calder's mobiles. It's never the same, even if the com - ponents remain consistent. The times change; the people change. It's a balanc - ing act—curriculum, money, policy, government, pedagogy, creativity, teachers, children...all the components need to balance for the mobile to work. Even still, things change and shift. Money disappears, so teachers need to be more creative. The curriculum changes, and we must adapt, balancing things with budgets and rules. Students change, so the curriculum does. Everything is connected. Art Speaks to All Perhaps the part of the passage that appeals to me the most is, "...speaks to people of all income brackets, races, and ages..." Is that not our goal for a successful art program? We want art to be meaningful. We want our students to be able to read the visual world and to express themselves within it. No barriers or boundaries should impede them. Calder's mobiles demonstrate that. They transcend convention yet stay balanced. They shift and change, yet the components remain the same. They fill the viewer with a sense of awe and wonder...what art education should do for the chil- dren who receive it! Jill Dupuis is a teacher at Glen Williams Public School in Glen Williams, Ontario, Canada. dupuisj@hdsb.ca W E B L I N K The Calder Game: en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/The_Calder_Game M Metaphor for Art Education Jill Dupuis P O I N T O F V I E W Illustration by Rama Hughes. 14 SEPTEMBER 2019 SchoolArts

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