By Michelle Turner, BVP Art Director & Middle School 1 Art Teacher
     


Recently I had a lovely visit from a former art teacher colleague that I haven’t seen in close to 15 years. Naturally, we spent some time sharing our current teaching practices. As we talked we quickly realized that we’ve both made similar philosophical shifts in our teaching since we began our careers. (I’m talking about a shift so completely opposite from what we were taught in our undergraduate art education programs.) This shift to valuing process over product has made our work new and exciting for everyone!

Simply put, we value the process (steps of thinking and planning) one goes through to get to the end result and understand that it is often more important than the product (art piece) itself. For our scholars at BVP, this is what the Artistic Process looks like:

A scholar’s work plan in
progress.

1. First, scholars come up with an IDEA (teachers supply various types of inspiration – through books, artistic challenges, the art of others, current events, themes, etc.) and expand on it through written statements, practice sketches and media planning. These comprehensive work plans are created before scholars even utilize art material. This allows teachers to “get into their heads” a little bit and provide additional guidance and suggestions to their plan.

A work plan in use.

2. Once a plan is complete and approved, scholars can begin to MAKE the actual artwork. During Art class you’ll often see teachers providing mini lessons to support scholars trying new techniques or demonstrating new media to the whole class. Scholars even teach and coach one another! 

A scholar’s Artist Statement.

3. Finally, when the project is complete, scholars gets the chance to REFLECT on their experience. This takes the form of writing Artist Statements that give scholars a chance to really think about and articulate the process of making their art. Here, they get to be honest about their effort, their design and media choices, and sometimes about what they would do differently if they were to do the same project over again. We teach them to accept that the artistic journey can sometimes be a struggle, but, with perseverance, they will grow to be innovative and critical thinkers. Whether a success or failure, we teach that each art piece is crucial to their journey of becoming a better artist, reflector, and thinker.

This exciting shift in teaching art is sweeping through our nation’s art classrooms as we now understand that this process plays a critical role in preparing our students to become true THINKERS in the 21st century. We’re excited to be part of this shift and truly believe that it is part of the work we do to prepare our scholars for the world beyond.

We will host our annual “For Art’s Sake” Art Show April 2nd and every BVP scholar will have a piece on display. Because we celebrate ideas and the process our scholars go through, this year we’re letting scholars choose work they feel best represents their artistic journey. As it has been in previous years, this event is free and open to the public, so we invite you to join us and embrace the Artistic Process with us. When you visit, if you come upon a scholar we invite you to ask them HOW they made their art, WHY they made it, and WHAT have they learned from their process. I promise, you’ll be impressed with what they can explain to you.

On behalf of the BVP art team and our scholar artists, we invite you to join us on Saturday, April 2nd, for our free art show and creation stations, including one with guest artist, Joyce Kutty. We hope to see you there!

Our free scholar art show is made possible thanks, in part, to the proceeds donated at our art opening reception and silent auction. This year’s reception will be held at Mad Dog Art Studio & Gallery from 6-9 pm. Tickets are available with a minimum donation of $35/each and the evening includes food, wine, and a brief program. For tickets or inquiries as to how to donate to the auction, please e-mail Jen LoPiccolo at jlopiccolo@blackstonevalleyprep.org or purchase online.