High School Studio Lesson
A DAY IN THE LIFE
As a teacher of the visual
arts, I find that expanding
my students’ definition of
art is a significant challenge. High-school students often tie
the definition of art to a two-dimensional surface, obstructing possible
solutions to visual problem-solving
and restricting creative thinking.
I do not mean to undermine the significance of two-dimensional art,
but rather to point
out that its overrepresentation as
“art” leads students to believe
their own work must meet preconceived standards.
So, even though I teach the fundamentals of design and commend
careful artistry, I gravitate towards
projects that also develop content and
allow students to utilize their problem-solving skills—abilities that are
critical in today’s “green” movement.
art as a social event: installation
art. From a contemporary point of
view, installation art aims to break
with established rules surrounding
process, media, or presentation. I
find this medium lends itself well to
exploring complex issues, and enables
an artist to use any creative means
necessary to communicate an idea.
Through a slide show, students
learned that instal-
I gravitate towards projects
lation art is not
that also develop content
confined to the
museum or gallery,
and allow students to flex
but can take place
their problem-solving skills.
anywhere, at any
time. It can reveal
something new about a space or peo-
ple experiencing a space.
It is also important to note that
installation art is not only a contemporary art form, but also one with an
historical precedence, like the caves
of Lascaux in France and Michelangelo’s frescos on the ceiling of the
Sistine Chapel in Italy.
Last spring, I found one particular
project that inspired students to view
Students worked together to develop
their own installation project. This
collaborative approach was new to
them and introduced a social element
to the creative process.
With me as their mediator and
scribe, students began working
together to make the following decisions:
What will be the theme of the
Where will the installation be
placed within the school?
Who needs to approve the installation?
What materials are required to
make the installation?
Students enacted a democratic process whereby they offered ideas that
the group further explored, supported,
and built upon. The class decided to
focus on a theme of common concern:
global warming. They also decided
that the school’s recycled matter
would be appropriate to re-purpose
as art material. They used one bin of
recycled paper and one of bottles.
Energy, laughter, frustration, and
curiosity filled the studio for one
week as students struggled and played
with the recycled goods.