Much of our curriculum and field literature focus on formalism and discussing formalist qualities in art when addressing teaching aesthetics in the classroomE&Ps as a construct for discussing and questioning artworks is only one approachToday we want to discuss getting over the hurdle of using one approach and venturing into an additional questioning construct
Art learning builds sequentiallyStudents need to learn E&Ps before they can progress in their art learningStudents have consistent and adequate access in elementary school to art classes taught by an art specialist
This is a great beginning and a strong universal language for students to learn and use, but after a while where’s the hook for students? Where’s the curiosity, intrigue and excitement from their point of view?
Ties to literacy ideas that an image is a text that can be readStudents eventually learn to question on their ownStudents’ natural curiosity is honored and nurturedStudents can transfer this thinking to their own studio practiceto develop a conceptual, personal voice
offer us tools to go deeper and broader in aesthetics discussions with studentsstart with questions you might naturally ask yourself when viewing artworks in a gallery or museum contextare inclusive of discussing formalist qualities
SUBJECTIVE FRAMEQuestions such as:What feelings does this artwork evoke?What do you intuitively feel is the meaning of this work?What are the qualities of the artwork that make you feel this way?Using your imagination, what other ideas or experiences can you relate to this work?STRUCTURAL FRAMEQuestions such as:How can the artwork be read as a system of signs?What are the visual and formal qualities of the work?What are the conventions, traditions or rules that construct the codes, symbols or signs that are used in the artwork?What values and beliefs are represented by the signs in the work?
CULTURAL FRAMEQuestions such as:How does the work reflect or challenge issues in the culture of the time?Is the artist, craftsperson or designer part of a movement or a style?How has this artist, craftsperson or designer been influenced by others?What are the ideological views, values and beliefs of the society that surround the work?POSTMODERN FRAMEQuestions such as:Trace the history of the text. What other text is it a part of?How has the meaning of the text changed in its different context.How has the recontextualization challenged an established pattern of authority?Expose the disjunctions between texts in the artwork (irony).
Important contributor to Harlem RenaissanceRecognized by W.E.B. Du BoisIllustrator to 2 of most important magazinesKnown for unique style and muralsUses very similar lines in Building More Stately Mansions and Song of the Towers. What do you think they mean?
What emotions do you see coming across in Douglas’ work?Why do you think Douglas chose to use Ancient Egyptian and European influences?What is Douglas’ overall message?How does the artist’s style contribute to his message?
What do you think is the purpose behind him taking pictures and arranging them in this way?How does breaking up the subject, as in the photos to the left, affect how you view the work?Why do you think the subjects he used in The Character Project acted differently in front of the camera?Why do you suppose the photographer chose the same background for everyone for The Character Project?Can you think of any other artists, even those who are not photographers, who depict everyday people just as they are in their artwork?
“My still life evokes a deep understanding of Native American culture. The drawing consists of a dream catcher and a Native American turquoise bracelet. My experience with the bracelet makes this work very meaningful to me. When I was 16, my family and I took a road trip to visit my cousins in Arizona. We stopped at an Indian Reservation in New Mexico to camp. My mom brought me this Native American made bracelet for my birthday. The turquoise is beautiful!”“The dream catcher also reminds me of my mother. My mother has always been interested in Native American history. We have explored the whole West on family vacations, and we often stay on Indian Reservations to camp.”
“The dream catcher wards away bad dreams. In Native American culture, dream catchers were hung in the dwellings or homes of the natives; the dream catcher would catch evil thoughts and dreams in its web during the night, then these negative dreams would be destroyed by morning’s light. The code behind the dream catcher is protector. The symbol was very positive and appreciated in the Native American culture. The meaning can be read by the audience if they understand the history behind the dream catcher.”
My contextualized piece includes an Edgar Allan Poe quote, “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream”; the quote curves along the hoop of the dream catcher and the dream catcher’s feathers frame the words. My belief is that many people use the dream catcher as a symbol, but they do not give credit to the Native Americans. The contextualized work is influenced by modern interest groups. Today, the dream catcher has become a symbol for peace, love, and beauty- it is used by the “Hippie” or “Hipster” trend. These trends do not value the dream catcher for its’ meaning in the Native American culture. The quote is used to make the audience ponder the meaning. The quote, in my mind, is a reference to consumerism and the “dream life”; but everyone can interpret the quote differently.
Edgar Allan Poe was an American author and poet that is considered to be a part of the American Romantic Movement; however, his writings are often dark, eerie, and mysterious. “All that we seem or seem is but a dream within a dream” is a quote taken from his poem A Dream within a Dream. The poem is very loving, and it goes along with the romantic notion of the dream catcher. The disjunction between the text and artwork is that Edgar Allan Poe had nothing to do with Native American culture, the only similarity between the two are “dream”. This brings awareness of the dream catcher’s new context in today’s generation. Many people do not have any correlation with the Native American culture, yet they feel entitled to wear or own dream catchers.
Asking Critical Questionsin the Secondary ClassroomDr. Judith Briggs • Dr. Ed Stewart • Dr. Colleen BrennanAndrew Adamczewski • Kristen Houlihan • Sam CookIllinois State University
The Advent of Formalism• Children and Their Art: “The quest for a universal language that “lies at the core of all understanding” led to the articulation of elements and principles of design, or “form.” What mattered more than content was form—consequently the label “formalism” *was born+. (p. 32)
Formalist Dreams Sequential Knowledge Elements & Principles First Access to Consistent & Adequate Art Instruction
The Hook for Teachers• Formalist approach = how a work was/is made• Elements and Principles: • can be easily identified in work • students can easily be assessed on this knowledge • make for great lesson objectives
Critical Questioning to the Rescue!• Students learn to read images• Fosters independence• Natural curiosity is honored and nurtured• Students’ interest is piqued• Students can transfer this thinking to their own studio practice
Growing Natural Artistic Thinking• start with content and concept• offer us tools to go deeper and broader in aesthetics discussions with students• are inclusive of formalist qualities• start with questions you might naturally ask yourself when viewing artworks
Starter Question Examples:• What is this work • What is the about? inspiration?• What is the message • Why is it important? or meaning? • What is/was the• Why did the artist artist’s intent? make it?
The FramesSubjective Structural• Feelings & emotions • Reading work as systems evoked of signs, symbols, codes• Intuitive reaction, • Visual and formal observation & qualities of work deciphering meaning • Representations of rules,• Viewers’ personal conventions, values, experience when traditions, beliefs encountering the work
The FramesCultural Postmodern• How work challenges • Exposing disjunctions issues/culture of the between texts in work time • Recontextualization• Art movements, styles challenging established• Artists’ influences patterns of authority• Societal ideologies, • Relationships between views, values, beliefs meaning & context surrounding work • Tracing a history of the text
Subjective Frame “My still life evokes a deep understanding of Native American culture.” “My experience with the bracelet makes this work very meaningful to me… My mom bought me this Native American made bracelet for my birthday” “The dream catcher also reminds me of my mother. [She] has always been interested in Native American history.”
Structural Frame “In Native American culture, dream catchers were hung in the dwellings or homes of the natives… The code behind the dream catcher is protector.” “The symbol was very positive and appreciated in the Native American culture. The meaning can be read by the audience if they understand the history behind the dream catcher.”
Cultural Frame “My belief is that many people use the dream catcher as a symbol, but they do not give credit to the Native Americans.” “This contextualized work is influenced by modern interest groups. Today, the dream catcher has become a symbol [used by people who+ don’t value it’s meaning in the Native American culture. “The *Edgar Allan Poe+ quote is used to make the audience ponder the meaning. The quote… is a reference to consumerism and the “dream life.”
Postmodern Frame “*The+ quote, from the poem A Dream within a Dream is very loving, and it goes along with the romantic notion of the dream catcher.” “The disjunction between the text and artwork is that Edgar Allan Poe had nothing to do with Native American culture, the only connection is “dream”. “This brings awareness of the dream catcher’s new context…many people do not have any correlation with the Native American culture, yet they feel entitled to wear or own dream catchers.”
Time to Frame!Use the handout provided to participate in a group discussion
Michael Dinges, Sampler, Dead Laptop Series 2007, engraved plastic and acrylic paint
Thank you!Dr. Judith Briggs firstname.lastname@example.orgDr. Colleen Brennan email@example.comDr. Ed Stewart firstname.lastname@example.org
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