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Crafted form.

Understandings of the word craft may range from Salvadore de Madrariaga's "the conveyance of spirit by means of matter," to Dorothy Parker's, "a form of catharsis." Each of us views the term in a personal and unique way, and every school art program addresses the concepts and processes of crafts instruction with differing degrees of instructional intensity.

In art education today, we struggle to find time for meaningful crafts experiences at both elementary and secondary levels. Encroaching curricular pressures have almost eliminated experiences in stitchery and other fiber processes in the elementary grades, and specialized course offerings in jewelry, textiles and ceramics are now the exception rather than the rule in most high school art programs. While one-period "experiences" and week-long units in pinch pots, simple batik and wire jewelry have replaced semester and year-long courses in crafts areas in many art programs, an unusual phenomenon is occurring in society at large. Throughout the nation, new craft galleries are being established, arts and crafts festivals are found in every town square and shopping mall, our living spaces are finding surfaces for showing contemporary expressions in glass, clay, wood, fibers and metal.

While mass-produced kitsch and trite, craftsy objects are still the rule at truckstops and tourist boutiques, I am increasingly impressed by the quality of craft objects available in museum shops, small galleries, better department stores and in the shops of individual craftspersons in almost every community. This brings to mind the need to re-introduce meaningful crafts experiences into our art classrooms. Our colleagues in the performing arts get good mileage from slogans that remind the community of the need for "audience development. " Well, we also have a similar need ... to develop a sense of craft appreciation. This process is best achieved by an exposure to good design in crafted form, and by providing opportunities to feel the pulse of clay turning on a wheel, along with the hands-on processes of carving, weaving, soldering and other craft experiences. Perhaps an adaptation of another popular slogan "Take Back the Crafts" could also be formulated.

The crafts have another potentially powerful role to play in the educational process. In addition to the expressive aspect of craft production and an opportunity to teach concepts of craftsmanship and problem solving, the chance to provide multicultural, educational experiences exists in the crafts to a higher degree than most other curricular areas. We can learn so much about a culture by examining its craft forms. A people's beliefs are evident in their rituals, respect for materials, technological adaptation, skills and the forms they invent and surfaces they decorate. Whether ancient Anasazi or contemporary pueblo pottery, four-thousand-year-old Asian bronze urns or twentieth century San Blas mola, we can only grow in respect for a person or a culture when we confront an object that possesses the beauty of personal expression in crafted form. Congress has designated 1993 "The Year of American Craft." We need to determine actions that will extend that concept into a rebirth of craft education within an expanded art education program.

A long this line, the Ohio Art education Association is to be commended for selecting a fall convention theme based on "The Year of American Craft." Faith Ringgold, known for her Story Quilts and other art/craft creations (see SchoolArts, May, 1989 Looking/Learning), will be the keynote speaker. There will be more than ninety workshops, many emphasizing crafts activities.

This issue presents eleven articles describing successful crafts activities at various levels, with emphasis on ceramics and textiles. Our departments, including Focus, Looking/Learning, HandOut, A Child's Gallery, Showcase and Resource Center, feature craft objects, processes and history. For those who prefer to leave craft teaching to others, we say, "Try it; you'll like it ... and so will your students." We also refer you to the drawing/designing ideas presented by Barbara Pratt, Foster Marlow and Joseph Amorino. This issue also presents data from the computer use in the classroom survey from our April 1993 issue. In addition to the raw data provided by the almost 200 subscribers who replied, Debbie Greh provides insightful comments concerning this growing component of the arts curriculum.
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Title Annotation:school arts curricula
Author:Anderson, Kent
Publication:School Arts
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Oct 1, 1993
Previous Article:Frida Kahlo: Portrait of a Woman.
Next Article:Creativity: it's always with you.

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