SchoolArts Magazine

September 2017

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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24 SEPTEMBER 2017 SchoolArts T H E O P E N A R T R O O M E veryone has something that drives them crazy, which is why complaining is an excellent subject for artistic exploration. Students don't often have free reign to complain, making thinking about it feel novel and engaging. This broad theme can be taken in many different directions, and is perfect for facilitat - ing a high level of choice. Students can make artwork about trivial concerns, such as squeaking doors, or serious problems such as global warming. They might even choose to make work about how hard it is to come up with an idea or how they hate this theme. All of this is great because it involves developing opinions and communicating them visually, which is pretty advanced stuff. Examining Issues The Guerrilla Girls, the feminist artist collective that took on the art world patriarchy starting in the 1980s, are expert complainers. To inspire examining issues that are meaningful and ways to approach talking about those topics visually, have students watch The Art of Complaining, an episode of PBS's The Art Assignment featuring the Guerrilla Girls. After students watch, have them think about issues they have a com - plaint about by completing a group brainstorming challenge. Divide the class into groups of three or four and challenge each group to list as many complaints as they can in five minutes. After the time is up, ask groups to share some of their top complaints. As students begin the process of taking a concept and turning it into an image that communicates that idea, they should keep their audience in mind. What information or image would persuade someone who disagrees with them to see their point of view? Design and Creation Once students have an idea, encourage them to design their artwork in the way that works best for them. Some examples of design methods are: • researching • sketching • experimenting with media • creating a rough draft • drawing compositional thumbnails • practicing technique • finding or taking resource images • requesting a demonstration Students should select two or more design activities and work through them with the goal of collecting the needed information to make their artwork successful. The student is responsible for the entire design, including selecting media, planning content, and addressing aesthetics. Once the work is planned, the focus shifts to creating the final product, which will often result in unexpected twists and turns that the student needs support to address. Teacher as Support The role of the teacher in this instruc- tional format is to be a sounding board, the voice of experience, and an encourager in daily conversations with students as they work. Differen- tiation is a natural part of these con- versations as the teacher and student work together to find solutions to challenges that arise. Communicating and Reflecting This lesson is all about effective communication. As students reflect, whether it is through posting on a personal blog, presenting, or sharing work in a teacher-student conference, they should think about how well the image they created communi - cates their intended concept. Some questions that work well for reflec - tion are: What complaint did you choose to feature in your work? What do you want people to know about your point of view? How did you plan and compose your work to get your point across? Were you successful? The work that students make in response to this theme is personal and contemporary. It's about their personal view of the world, which makes this experience a truly meaningful one. If we want to facilitate self-expression in our classrooms, asking open-ended questions is a great place to start. Melissa Purtee is an art teacher at Apex High School in Apex, North Carolina, and co-author of The Open Art Room, available from Davis Publications. Please Complain Melissa Purtee Students don't often have free reign to complain, making thinking about it feel novel and engaging. Students create images to communicate their ideas, keeping their audience in mind.

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