We began our first art class activity by reading The Dot by Peter Reynolds. Reynolds’ story follows Vashti, a young girl who doesn’t think she’s artistic, but is encouraged to explore her own creative angle by a teacher who refuses to doubt her creative ability.
Using this story as a prompt, our art instructor encouraged us to break into small groups to experiment with a variety of materials on a large piece of paper. Afterwards we brought our posters to the middle of the room and offered a few “non-judgemental critiques” of the other groups.
My group’s collaborative effort.
For the second half of our activity, we were encouraged to create our own individual pieces using smaller pieces of paper.
This was also followed by “non-judgemental critiques”. For this reflection, we were encouraged to consider if this type of activity could be considered a “holistic arts experience”.
I appreciated the instructor’s choice to begin the activity with a prompt (The Dot). This helped to remove the pressure and stress of a completely unguided activity, but still allowed us considerably freedom in our creative choices. I also appreciated the intentional nature of a non-judgemental critique. Rather than ranking artwork according to an often arbitrary ranking system, this approach targets key elements that were done well (colour use, spacing, form, etc). This could really help students remain emotional engaged with the artistic world (unlike those of us who dropped out early because we were never “good”), while also challenging their knowledge of key elements of the artistic method. Physically, the open-ended objective allowed us to move about the classroom and engage in a type of art more compatible with our learning method (for example: I crumpled up my paper to make a 3D shape, since I’ve never really enjoyed drawing, or artistic forms that require small, neat detail). I could easily see this kind of activity fitting into current elementary education practices, while also producing a more holistic learning experience than some classes currently provide.