Teaching studio art: liberating artistic spirits
The aim of educating others always has to be rooted in the idea that the people being educated should be encouraged to think for themselves and to explore the world and various themes from a person centered philosophical view. The best teacher is the one who doesn’t push ideas onto others, but rather opens the door for others and encourages self determination and self reliance in creating a unique and personal view of the subject matter. Wisdom comes not from everyone being the same and agreeing on every way of doing something, rather by personally and critically forming individual opinions about the world. Teaching is best viewed as a way of aiming to shed light on various areas of study, yet refraining from imposing advice or personal beliefs onto others. In the teaching of studio art, philosophy, and theory, one must create an actively engaging environment for introducing artistic themes while allowing for freedom of personal thought in artistic philosophy and self expression in creating artistic works (MacDonald).
In creating the format for a studio art class, it is good to consider the appropriate development of both the process as well as the content of the course. The best format for a studio art class is to begin the class with an overview of the many weekly or biweekly artistic themes to be covered throughout the entire semester, and the teacher personally and the free and active teaching method should also be introduced. In moving into the first artistic theme of the semester, students should be encouraged in active participation, perhaps visiting a museum which displayed a wide variety of works of art within that particular genre. There is no comparison to having firsthand experience of viewing and considering the actual works of art. Speaking with the artist or having a good overview of the life of the artist are also indispensible, and the more active and hands on the experience for the students, the better. Once the class has a good philosophical perspective, then comes the practical work of personally moving into the arena of actually creating works of art related to the particular theme or genre. The environment for students to work in should not be stagnant, as stagnation of the body and mind is the stagnation of spirit, which is the spring of creative impulse. Varied materials and environments for artistic expression are encouraged, lending to a diverse and changing experience with artistry, a flexible and colorful mode of the process and content of studio art (Bresler).
The development of a successful studio art class should include enough structure to cover vital artistic themes and lend a good portion of time to creative expression through the creation of personal works of art as well as include enough flexibility for changes within this frame. A rhythm of moving from genre to genre should musically carry the class through the semester, and students should be encouraged in their personal views and expressions, whether the ideas and creations are more mainstream or more radical. In creative arts, more personal, internal philosophy and self expression is just as important as exposure to more environmental, external art history and philosophy, just as time for the study of and exposure to other works of art is just as important as the creation of one’s own.
Bresler, Liora. Knowing bodies, moving minds: towards embodied teaching and learning. Springer, 2004.
MacDonald, Stuart. The History and Philosophy of Art Education. James & Clark Co, 2004.