SchoolArts Magazine

MAR 2013

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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Dual Perspectives Consider planning a twenty-first century art curriculum from two different, yet intertwined perspectives: 1. Does this curriculum adequately represent a range of the aesthetic practices and artistic ideas in society at this time? Is this curriculum faithful to the complexity of the discipline? 2. Does this curriculum give students access to a wide range of methods for making personally satisfying, meaningful, and engaging works of art, craft, and design? Is this curriculum faithful to the needs of students? The Problem of Oversimplification Using the above questions, it becomes apparent that thinking only in terms of skill-building and formalist vocabulary tends to constrain curriculum planning because it assumes that choicemaking about a complex endeavor can be fit into a standardized framework. An example of this is the idea that a beginning high-school art curriculum could be adequately designed by creating a project for each element of design or a series of simple projects defined as "media experiences." The problem of overly simplified frameworks can also arise when media-specific classes are taught as though there is a single, foundational path to understanding the mastery of a particular media, when there are many different traditions for approaching painting, photography, or ceramics. Teaching that there is a clearly defined linear path to making and interpreting art is actively misteaching the complexities of the culture of art. contemplation of and attempt to grasp the subtle aesthetics of Japanese pottery, or getting familiar with the spirit of the times and methods of making California Funk ceramics. Students should understand what these artists were rejecting and what they were encouraging, rather than limiting themselves to a single method of making and appreciating "good" ceramics. The emphasis of the bricolage concept is on deliberately contrasting various ways to experience, create, and think about an art form, and to acknowledge the complex, contradictory, and necessary nature of this paradoxical method of learning in postmodern times. It eschews the notion of "foundational curriculum," Bricolage Concept instead advancing a conception of Consider using the metaphoric struc"comprehensive curriculum" that ture of the bricolage concept for choosing the range of works to include introduces students to a wide variety of artistic methodologies. These are in a curriculum. Bricolage is a French not techniques related to a particuword used to describe "a construction lar medium, but complex aesthetic (of a sculpture or idea) achieved by practices that acknowledge, redefine, using whatever comes to hand." For extend, or conexample, bricolage could be used to The emphasis of the bricolage tradict other methods of designate a folk-art concept is on deliberately experiencing and installation concontrasting various ways to making art. structed of bits of Students wood, tile, bottles, experience, create, and think need to see the wire, and various about an art form. study of art as an found objects. engagement with "living" aesthetic Joe L. Kincheloe, a Canadian propractices—methodologies that real fessor of education, uses the term artists use to make fresh meaning— bricolage to describe divergent, multinot as historical reenactments that perspectival approaches to research create facsimile art. By learning about and curriculum. Given the roots of the diverse art-making strategies, students term bricolage in the actual making of can employ aspects of ways of making things, it's a good choice for describthat they find interesting, appealing, ing the art teacher's task of surveying and useful. a wide range of art-making practices. Teachers can choose from a disparate Note: All images accompanying this array of these aesthetic methodologies article were created by teen artists in to create a curriculum that encourages the Spiral Workshop at the University students to experience and understand of Illinois at Chicago. art (and the world) from various, and sometimes contradictory, perspectives. Olivia Gude is coordinator of art educaA good standard for deciding to tion and a professor in the School of Art include a particular lesson in a curand Design at the University of Illinois at riculum is to asses whether or not, Chicago. ogude@me.com through this project, students will be introduced to a method by which Web Link artists engage in their work. In a www.uic.edu/classes/ad/ad382/sites/ ceramics course, this could mean the Olivia/OG_ 01.html schoolartsonline.com 21

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