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Celebrating student artwork through national publication.

We can share our students' artwork with the community through classroom, school library, or media center exhibits, in the hallways, school board office, or other public community centers. I was encouraged by an administrator to look for a professional journal in which to showcase the work my students and I were doing in the artroom.

Through the support of my department head and vice principal, I started to refine my thinking process and write about my student projects. Eventually, I became published in SchoolArts and even national art textbooks.

I asked for support from the administrators by having them read over my initial text to provide feedback. This created an open and positive dialogue where it felt like we were working together for the best interests of our students. My reviewers prompted my thinking with questions, which refined my work both in the classroom and in the written text I was developing.

Promoting student artwork through national publication empowers students to celebrate their accomplishment in the artroom. As a form of art advocacy, it also promotes your art program, reinforcing the value of art education.

Getting Started

Publication should be the result of successful student learning. You should consider both writing quality and quality of supporting photographs when documenting creative visual problems. The process is all about developing challenging and meaningful lessons that lead to exciting results, and then documenting those results. When developing lessons, record: your overall thinking process and progression of an idea, identify materials needed and time frame, document the acquisition of visual resources, and write down your thoughts on how the idea can be best executed by students.

Begin by writing down your thoughts about the project idea. Build on a standard lesson plan approach, but also engage the potential reader by sharing your interest, passion, and creativity and how you developed the idea. First, it is important to look at the structure of the visual problem you are going to present--it needs to be focused, yet open-ended.

Start with a clear objective that sets a direction for encouraging and increasing student skills and creativity, without predicting the students' end product. I've found developing a visual problem with both a focus and an umlimited outcome the most sucessful.

Developing Layered Concepts

I learned that any project could develop in layers, starting with a relatively simple concept and expanding to encompass student growth opportunities. An example of further developing a concept came to me when I was asked to critique middle- and high-school student artwork at a statewide arts festival. One sixteen-year-old had created a teapot and two cups. Her thematic approach used a heart shape in the shape of the spout, handle, design on the lid, and for the shape of both cups. A unique aspect was that the heart-shaped cups were curved to fit snugly against the teapot, adding to the visual unity of the three parts.

The student's teacher informed me that it was the student who had thoughtfully developed the thematic idea. I mentioned she should photograph this student's work and, next year, assign a thematic teapot project in which students selected their own themes to develop.

I realized the idea of developing teapots could be broadened by using a more general concept. Having students create a "vessel form" with two interlocking smaller forms would head students into a direction of a unified three-dimensional form. Therefore, students working on this project would make visual connections between the overall form, function, and the design being developed as in the heart-themed teapot.

As art teachers, many influences can help us develop quality assignments, including our own students' creativity. Developing new visual problems is a process that can be refined and clarified with daily discussions with students, in groups or as individuals. In writing about the overall experience, you should include students' influences, reflective insights, and discussions in the conclusion of your text.

WEB LINK schoolarts/index.asp schoolarts/articles/ OctoberStraws.pdf

Ken Vieth is the author of From Ordinary to Extraordinary and Engaging the Adolescent Mind and co-author of The Visual Experience, all from Davis Publications. He is currently an art education consultant from Rosemont, New Jersey, and a contributing editor for SchoolArts.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:All Levels
Author:Vieth, Ken
Publication:School Arts
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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