SchoolArts Magazine

NOV 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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Page 25 of 54

Meaningful Outdoor Collaborations Andrew Katz and Brian Michaels N o child left inside!" This is one of the latest rallying cries coming from an increasingly large contingency of outdoor education teachers and facilitators. At our school in Annapolis, Maryland, we have a comprehensive outdoor education program and a philosophy that spotlights experiential learning. Often, it makes sense to take advantage of natural (no pun intended) overlaps and crosscurricular concepts in our course content. This provides students with a richer and more complete learning experience. Why Go outside? While not every teacher has direct access to natural settings, it's a good sign that many of us are seeking out opportunities to take kids outdoors. The challenge comes in cultivating these experiences and environments into meaningful, semi-structured lessons. We find faculty asking, "What advantages can the outdoor classroom provide us as teachers, artists, collaborators, and learners?" As artists and art educators, the outside classroom affords us an abundance of materials, surfaces, textures, and settings. When these spaces and natural media are reintroduced by visual arts instructors, students begin to see a sophisticated tableau for visual and artistic expression. These spaces become their canvases and their galleries. Top left: Owens. Top right: Annabel. Middle right: Cole. Bottom left: Jackson. Bottom right: Liam and Andrew. introducing Andy Goldsworthy flexibility of twigs, "stackability" of Although Andy Goldsworthy is quite stones, availability of colors, etc. The a famous photographer/sculptor, there possibilities for solutions are nearly are still many young artists who unlimited, as students are asked to haven't been introduced to his work look at foliage, soil, tree bark, snow, and innovative approach to making ice, water, and acorns as art supart outside. We've found that short plies—as their new media. exposures to Goldsworthy's natuWhether he's working on a sandy ral installations (in photo form), are beach, forest floor, cornfield, or city immensely inspiring for young artists. street, Goldsworthy encourages us to As a result, we re-evaluate our bring a few of his The outside classroom affords surroundings. books on each By combining us an abundance of materials, these ideas with of our middle surfaces, textures, and settings. unique outdoor school outdoor education trips. experiences and Andy Goldsworthy has provided us other teachers, student artists will be with a primer for using natural objects able to take these concepts wherever and settings as visual media. We can they go. They'll begin making their look towards his art to see symmeown connections between disciplines try, value, color, line, shape, texture, and come away with more meaningform, space, rhythm, balance, etc. ful experiences. Once students identify art concepts in We encourage you to seek out innoGoldsworthy's elegantly constructed vative and enthusiastic teachers on installations, they can develop their your faculty for such collaborations. own uses, meanings, and insights for Chances are, there will be some spetheir surroundings. They may decide cial and memorable learning experito work in small groups or indepenences for both teachers and students. dently, and often this decision-making process has profound effects on the Andrew Katz is the visual arts departartwork. exploring Media & Settings Like Goldsworthy, student artists should work with only natural materials and understand that these installations should be temporary; that they will be reclaimed by nature. Possible starting points might involve a group discussion or brainstorming session; a distribution of prepared art element cards as a catalyst for idea generation; or investigations into available natural media, such as playing with ment head and Brian Michaels is the outdoor education department head at Key School in Annapolis, Maryland. NaTioNal sTaNdard Students intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas. Web liNk 21

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