SchoolArts Magazine

APR 2014

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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A D V O C A C Y The Craft of Skill 8 schoolartsonline.com tive ideas and has influenced craftspeople the world over. While the symbolism of a particular element may vary from culture to culture, the implication that objects are embedded with meaning and purpose is universal. Blending Cultures The forms, materials, and themes represented in craft traditions are influenced by contact of cultures. The objects created out of these traditions reflect the blend- ing and borrowing that takes place when cultures connect. In everyday household arti- facts, a discerning observer will see evidence of borrowed elements, traces of the old, and emergence of the new. While artists may work within an established com- munity tradition and build on the past, they also may bor- row and adapt materials and forms to express new ideas. Our respect, for both indi- viduals and cultures, grows when we encounter beauti- fully crafted forms of another time and place in this way. By teaching crafts guided by a global perspective, we are preparing our students for living in the larger world community. By teach- ing crafts with an emphasis on mastery of skill so that students acquire the abil- ity to work with patience, preci- sion and care, we are giving them an even more important lesson for life: ÒIf itÕs worth doing at all, itÕs worth doing well.Ó Eldon Katter is co-author of Explorations in Art (Davis Publications) and former editor of SchoolArts. ekatter@ ptd.net. nities a craft might be traditionally a manÕs work, whereas in other com- munities, only women might participate in that craft. Neverthe- less the mastery of basic skills is essential. Also, we can- not ignore that certain themes appear in almost every culture. For example, across continents and centuries, certain ani- mals have continued to capture the imagination. The animal kingdom has provided an endless variety of decora- W e live in a rap- idly changing world. Prepar- ing students for living in our vast interna- tional community requires new competencies and skills that are not time and culture bound. Students need to be able to acquire skills and con- sider information from a vari- ety of cultural, ideological, and gender-related perspec- tives. Around the world we can find examples of families, working together, dividing the tasks, and sharing the work while passing the skills from generation to generation. The traditions are continued because they have been found to work. A Worldwide Cultural Storehouse Education for democratic citi- zenship in a global age calls for a new look at our diverse pasts and a greater concern for our collective future. Toward that end, a good craft program has the potential for increasing studentsÕ mastery of transferable skills, as well as fostering international and intercultural perspectives. Art teach- ers can significantly enrich their pro- grams by drawing exemplars from the full range of objects, skills, and tech- niques from our worldwide cultural storehouse. S uch a program can focus on examples of crafts that are an integral part of peopleÕs everyday lives, as well as examples preserved in museums around the world. Understanding Values and Themes We cannot ignore that handcrafted objects express values shared within specific communities throughout the world. For example, in some commu- Eldon Katter Art teachers can significantly enrich their programs by drawing exemplars from the full range of objects, skills, and techniques from our worldwide cultural storehouse. Agustin Cruz Prudencio, a Mexican folk artist from Oaxaca who spoke to the SchoolArts/CRIZM AC Folk Art Extravaganza in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in July 2013. Photo by Bill Yarborough. CoverTOC4_14.indd 8 2/20/14 2:59 PM

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