SchoolArts Magazine

Summer 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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16 SUMMER 2018 SchoolArts A rt history has never been my strongest subject. Dates elude me and names largely become a blur the further back I venture. When I first began my teaching career, I approached art history with trepi - dation, afraid that I wouldn't get it " right." I labored over making sure every lesson was referential, but as I practiced this, I learned that it gravely detracted from process and often pigeonholed my students into a specific way of thinking about what art is and who can be an art - ist. So I decided, when it came t o art history, I'd let my students determine what they would study and let their genuine interests guide them through the process as often as possible. Personal Interactions There are artists we know to be important for their historical con- tributions to methods and culture, b ut it is important to note that names and works can be meaning- less if students cannot attach their o wn narratives as they explore them. In my own classroom, I still teach the "masters," and consis - tently present contemporaries, b ut I try to engage my students by making each interaction with a new artist personal. This relation - ship builds a better understanding o f the work being studied, and has a lasting impact on the way stu- dents think about creating. For my freshmen-level art course, I use this approach toward the end of the year to tie together the techniques students have learned, while simultaneously giving them the freedom to create something with their own par - ticular voice. Because we spend so l ong exploring media and learning foundational skills in technique and composition, I find it impor - tant that students have an opportu- nity to create work with authentic e xpression. Starting with Style In this lesson, students learn about style. They investigate historical art- ists, such as van Gogh, and contem- porary artists, such as Tim Burton. B y observing and describing, stu- dents determine what makes each a rtist's work distinct. This practice Kelsey Greenland encourages students to notice indi- vidual characteristics and similari- ties between artists, which lays the f oundation for a deeper understand- ing of artistic movements. We use t his idea of mimicry to understand the term appropriation, and define the limits of acceptable imitation. Previous page: Adriana Ellwein, self-portrait inspired by Polina Bright and Vince Okerman, grade nine. Above: Kaylee DeLine, self-portrait inspired by Tim Burton and Peter Max, grade nine.

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