SchoolArts Magazine

February 2015

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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W ay back during my first university experience, I had a professor who was known for his blistering public critiques of student artwork. I remember a fellow student bursting into tears and running out of the room after the professor told her she would be better off as a business major. For- tunately, his time at the school didn't last very long. Hopefully, art educators these days are much more considerate. Significant and useful guidance for leading contemporary class critiques is provided in Studio Thinking 2: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education. The book's "Reflect" chapter provides meaningful suggestions for helping stu - dents learn how to question, explain, and evaluate their own artwork through self-reflection and discussion, both in class critiques and in one-on- one conversations with their teachers . In Studio Thinking 2, "reflect" is referred to as aesthetic discourse— simply, thinking and talking about art. Aesthetics is the branch of philos- ophy that is concerned with concepts of value and beauty as they relate to the arts. Aesthetic questions often arise when students look at and think about art. The challenge is to provide opportunities for students to practice reflection about their own work in a safe, comfortable environment. Dis- course should focus on the positive aspects of students' ideas and artwork, using questioning to encourage them to reflect on their work and push it further. Teachers can use questioning strate- gies to help students talk about their w ork, reflect on its meaning, and explain how they are working through - out the art-making process. Reflecting o n one's portfolio and exhibiting work are two ways students learn the value of evaluating. Through these skills, students learn to make interpretive judgments about works of art and to support their claims using evidence. Visit Follow me on Editor's Letter At some point you have probably heard someone say that there are no right or wrong answers in art, but I believe that is not true. There may be multiple solutions to a problem, but some answers can be better than others if they are sup - ported with reasons for the decision or choice. What, in practical terms, does Studio Thinking 2 sug- gest art teachers do to encourage students to reflect upon, question, explain, and evaluate their own artwork and the artwork of others? Try mid-process, more positive class critiques; have students reflect on the development shown through their portfolios; exhibit their artwork with accom- panying artist statements; and help them learn to make aesthetic judgments about artworks and defend them. Cre- ate a supportive classroom culture in which you encourage students to engage in reflective thinking and continuous self-assessment of both their ideas and the art-making pro- cesses they investigate. "Art-making requires serious thinking." —Studio Thinking 2 Nancy at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. Robert Indiana, LOVE, 1966–1999. Cor-Ten steel, 72 x 72 x 36" (183 x 183 x 91 cm).

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