SchoolArts Magazine

December 2016

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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Melissa Purtee Examining Originalit T H E O P E N A R T R O O M CONTINUED ON PAGE 44. M ost students enter their first high-school art class with the misconception that all ideas have to be totally new to be valid. This puts quite a bit of pressure on them when they are asked to come up with ideas of their own in student-directed classrooms. For an upper-level TAB program to be suc- cessful, students have to be taught this fact: Very few ideas are truly original. Instead, ideas are borrowed, remixed, repurposed, and revised through the ages as a key part of our collective cultural heritage. Fresh, Modern, Compelling The essential skill for students to know in the Open Art Room is how to transform what inspires them into something new. To teach this, I start by showing my Art 1 students an image of Kehinde Wiley's work. A highly successful portrait artist, Wiley reimagines old master works with contemporary figures and lush, styl - ized backgrounds. The result is fresh, modern, and visually compelling. I ask students to compare Jean- Auguste Dominique Ingres's Napo- leon on His Imperial Throne to Wiley's version (he replaces Napoleon with the masterly painted visage of rapper Ice-T). We discuss how Wiley changed the original to make some- thing new and how his use of a classic work adds to the message of his art. We also discuss strategies for trans- formation: combining ideas, changing something essential, using multiple sources for inspiration, and adding to the original concept. Original Art Challenge Next, I task students with creat- ing their own artworks inspired by famous paintings. I divide the class into small groups and have each group select a work as their inspira- tion. Students choose the media that they wish to use based on their vision with feedback from me. Some groups plan to draw from observation, while others utilize the projector to trace sections of the original work. A few groups even use smart phone apps and Photoshop to create their images. Combining Ideas The work students create tends to be a capsule of the moment's pop-culture references. Harambe the gorilla's face graces the Mona Lisa, Michael Phelps becomes the central figure in The Fall of Man, and Kim Kardashian replaces the Girl with a Pearl Earring. Students combine ideas to make something that is of-the-moment and relevant to them. To reflect, each group gives a short presentation about their work and creative decision-making. Visual images form a conversation that is built on the ideas of those who came before. 8 DECEMBER 2016 SchoolArts

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