SchoolArts Magazine

MAY 2018

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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H I G H S C H O O L I n the last year or so, I've been mull- ing over the idea of artist research and what that looks like to the twenty-first century learner. Gone are the days of just flipping through encyclopedias or conducting limited internet searches. Today's students have access to museums' massive online collections, art-focused blogs, and social media accounts, connect - ing them to myriad contemporary artists. Accessibility to art is at an all-time high, which begs the ques - tion: How do we help students navi- gate their overwhelming exposure to visual culture? And how do we engage students in research beyond a paper or reproduction? Giving Students a Role One of my approaches to solving this dilemma is to allow students to syn - thesize their digital experience into a physical one through artistic role-play. I challenge students to take on the role of a museum curator, who will pres - ent a concept to a board of trustees for a future exhibition in their museum (we called ours the Greenlandheim). To do this, students are each assigned a broad theme at random and tasked with selecting artworks to fit that topic. Students also create models of their proposed gallery spaces, which are presented with unique titles and curatorial statements that defend their selection of works. Interpreting and Building Spaces Prior to diving into this project, we take a virtual trip to our local art museum. I engage students not only in looking at the artwork, but also at the presentation of the space. Each room in the museum has unique charac - teristics—classical artwork displayed Research Kelsey Greenland on jewel-toned walls with heavy gold frames, all arranged at similar heights, and contemporary works in a vast array of media, with angular parti - tions leading you through the room. We have an organic classroom discus - sion about the effect of a space on the experience of a museum patron as well as its ability to provide context to the work on display. I ask students to keep this in mind when envisioning their own gallery spaces. Research and Exploration Before constructing models, students conduct research. Though each student is assigned a theme, they are encour - aged to interpret its potential meaning however they choose by selecting a variety of 2D and 3D artworks. This practice allows students to examine diverse criteria of styles and media, unrestricted from the constraints of THROUGH ROLE-PLAY Gabriella Fanelli, Rebirth, grade eleven. Chloe Ball, grade ten, constructs gallery components. 34

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