One observation I had that was very interesting was during your aesthetics assignment. You gave your students six photos of famous artwork in different mediums and asked them to rate the photos and explain why. Some students thought there were “right” and “wrong” answers and worked as a table to figure it out. Others voiced their opinions but had a hard time explaining why they gave a specific rating. Some of their explanations were:· Because I like it· I hate it· It is creative· I like eaglesI thought it was interesting that they had a hard time elaborating the “why” in their responses (e.g., why they liked it, why they thought it was creative, etc.).This shows me how important it is to have students critique artwork at a young age. It helps them articulate why they like or dislike things more effectively-- something they can use in life.It is wonderful that you are having your students work on aesthetics assignments, like the one stated above, to help them think critically about artwork.
- Mona Lisa - (high) by da Vinci, famous, a favorite, beautiful - (low) just a woman, she never smiles!, normal looking, common picture
- Ansel Adams - (high) captured the moment, dramatic mood, great composition - (low) I can take photos, needs color, just a bunch of mountains
- Zulu baskets - (high) colorful, creative, took a long time to make - (low) ugly, boring, not important, I could do it
- van Gogh - (high) more free, original, it's a classic, love texture and color - (low) don't like the color, not the best, doesn't look like art
- Contemporary sculpture - (high) simple design, unique, creative - (low) lacks color, don't know what it is, irrelevant, I've seen better
- van Gogh: 61% in top ranking (1-3) - 39% in bottom ranking (4-6)
- Ansel Adams: 60% in top ranking (1-3) - 40% in bottom ranking (4-6)
- Zulu baskets: 32% in top ranking (1-3) - 68% in bottom ranking (4-6)
- Contemporary sculpture: 29% in top ranking (1-3) - 71% in bottom ranking (4-6)
I agree with Eisner and Melissa about the importance of giving students the opportunity to voice their opinion about what they like in art. But I learned some other things as well. Not too surprising to me was their favoring of van Gogh's painting and Ansel Adams's photography over the more utilitarian Zulu baskets and conceptual contemporary sculpture. Their rankings showed a preference for work with a strong narrative in an artwork, it gives them something to grab onto. They love color and have some awareness and appreciation for historically great works of art. More education and knowledge about the techniques and cultural background of basketry could change their perception and appreciation. My experience with the general public about contemporary art reflects in these young art appreciators' opinion - there isn't an easy entry to the work and can be more easily disregarded. Again, exposure, contextual information and understanding the conceptual ideas behind such works might not change their opinion about whether they like it or not, but could broaden their understanding of the diversity and expressive qualities of art. They still might say, "It's really boring, but that guy put a lot of effort into it!" And just adding a qualifier to their opinion would swell the heart of this art teacher!