The art classroom: It’s NOT about the ART!

BraveART by Jodi PattersonI have the pleasure of proofreading a book that is about to hit the market and has the potential to radically alter the way we teach, understand and learn about art. Not just for teens, but for all of us who interact in the art world. Because it is NOT a book about the art object. It is a conversation, a story, about how the process of making art affects our daily lives. The book is titled “BraveART and Teens A Prime for the New High School Art Teacher” and its author, Jodi A. Patterson, is a former classmate of mine from the Master of Fine Arts-Interdisciplinary Arts (MFA-IA) Program at Goddard College. I shall speak more about it contents when the book is released to market.

I want to see this book on the market quickly¬†because while I know government funding for arts classrooms is always the first to go because we don’t understand what art is REALLY – REALLY! – I also know that the traditional arts classroom needs a new model (like so many other classrooms still using the industrial era model of teaching/learning). What’s more, I know that Jodi’s is the type of book that can lead to the conversations we need to be having about what teaching and making art is REALLY about.

One of the reasons I don’t pursue teaching K-12 is that I have no doubt I would be thrown out -canned – fired – blacklisted – for the way I teach art because there is no funky, old manual in my classroom and while I respect the elements and principles of art, I only learned them so that I knew how to break the rules! Making art is about solving problems. It is about making meaning out of the clutter and chaos of life. A teacher who throws out a syllabus to better serve students is not embraced in many schools.

By the way, before I really knew Jodi, I loved her work. I loved the bravery of her bold slashes, her unabashed use of color, how she allowed you to destroy her work to make your own from it and how she was BRAVE enough to dangle a knife on a string in front of her canvas and say “Go ahead! Do as you wish!” I didn’t think about this until now, but I think being able to “touch” her work back then is what led me to tell my viewers “go ahead. TOUCH it!”

Please, check out Jodi’s¬†website. On campus, I would stare at the pieces and wonder about her stories. I equated her layers of a painting as the kind of meaning-making I was making in my layered visual hypertext even though our products looked NOTHING alike. Our conversations/affiliations/collaborations/growth processes thus began and have never stopped.