What’s your fantasy as an art teacher? Go ahead,
dream big! I could go for smaller class sizes, an
aide with every kindergarten class, a great digital camera, a smart board, grants for educational
travel, chair massage, and an unlimited budget
to make all this possible!
Seriously, how do we help our students think
about and express the idea of fantasy through
their artwork? Judging from the articles
SchoolArts receives, many art teachers approach the
theme of fantasy primarily through portraiture
and self-portraiture. We offer a number of such
articles in this issue.
As art teachers, we know that the place where
students are most encouraged to use their imaginations is the artroom. Sadly, that isn’t always
the case in the non-art classroom. So how can
we best encourage students to embrace the fantastic and use their imaginations, especially
when so many are drawn to the latest computer
game or gadget?
We can strive to develop challenging and
meaningful visual art problems, no matter what
level we teach. We can support and show respect
for our students’ creative ideas and endeavors.
We can provide a safe place for students to
express their ideas without fear of judgment.
Brainstorming, working collaboratively, and
including aspects of humor and play also help
make learning through art more engaging. The
rich theme of fantasy invites numerous meaningful and differing responses that are limited
only by the imagination. Go for it!
PBS’s Art: 21 Season 5 episode “Fantasy”
Art: 21 offers superb assistance for learning in
their Season 5 episode “Fantasy” (2009). This epi-
sode features contemporary artists “whose works
defy convention and transport us to unreal worlds
and altered states of consciousness. With works at
times hallucinatory, irreverent, and sublime, each
of these artists pursues a vision first held in the
The episode explores the work of contempo-
rary artists Jeff Koons, Mary Heilmann, Florian
Maier-Aichen, and Cao Fei (our cover artist this
month), and includes educator’s guides. A blog
and an invitation to submit student work based
on the Art: 21 materials are also available online