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Student Voice

One of the things many art teachers overlook is teaching students to write about art.  I am not talking here about the typical writing of reports and art history research.  What I am talking about is the kind of writing that is introspective and thoughtful-writing which allows students to ‘find their voice’ in the art class.  High school students are being taught more than art in the art room.  They are being taught how to problem-solve, how to persevere, how to think creatively, how to accept and celebrate one another’s differences.  They are taught to communicate through the arts.  Along with that, comes a responsibility to teach students how to talk about art and how to write about it.

In the sculpture class where I interned, my mentor teacher used graphic organizers to help students put their ideas into a readable, coherent artist statement.  When she first told me about it, I asked if students struggled with the artist statements, since they are difficult for many of us professional artists to write.  My mentor teacher assured me the students were not going to be daunted by the process and I would be pleased with what they wrote.  She got me started on a quest to find ways for students to be able to reflect more deeply on the art process and on the final art pieces.

Here is a basic template for the graphic organizer we used in class.  It is easily modified to focus on specific art projects and can be used for Drawing and Painting, Ceramics, and Jewelry as well.


Below is a student artist statement for a collaborative sculpture project.  It is amazing.  This was not the super-smart kid who a teacher expects to be articulate.  This quality was typical of nearly all of the artist statements.

student artist statement 1

This set of skills makes talking about art simple and makes looking at art more enjoyable.  Students who think deeply about how and why they created their own work are better able to go out into the world and truly appreciate what they see.  Being able to talk and write about art will enhance their lives in ways they won’t think of when they are still in the high school art class.  Later, when they are– for example, traveling in Oman, they will be able to look at the decorated domes of the mosques and appreciate their beauty, knowing that it is created using the elements of line and shape, both geometric and organic, which are organized using the principles of pattern and repetition.   It is a far richer way to see and know the world than to simply think, “Hey, that sure is pretty.”

~ by anitawesto on April 17, 2013.

sculpture, teaching