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General Education Abilities Review

  • Art Student Exhibit 2012

    Portfolio review and critique are the primary assessment tools in art. The portfolio reflects each course's specific learning outcomes and trace a student's development throughout the semester. The annual Art Student Exhibit, curated by the art faculty, brings together student portfolios from the majority of the art studio courses. As a result, the exhibit functions as a primary means of cross-curricular and programmatic-level assessment.

    In addressing the role of general education abilities as they apply to art it should be noted that critique and art discourse play a crucial role in the development of the student artist and occur throughout studio, history, and critical studies courses. The notion of the artist's voice in the work of art is instilled within the student throughout their program of study. Students learn objective (description of what is observable in a work and analysis of its form) and subjective (interpretation of what is being said and what is happening in the work, and evaluation of the relative success and importance of the work) critique as a means of understanding the work of art. Students also gain an understanding of the importance of divergent thinking, struggle, and failure as positive steps along the road the completion of a successful work.

    Appreciate diverse cultural and individual perspectives: Students share individual perspectives and cultural experiences/differences through the work they develop over the course of the semester and group critique. They are exposed to diverse cultural perspectives through instructor presentations of examples of a variety of artist's work pertaining to the content of the course. The student exhibit opens up this dialog beyond the classroom to our broader community. As a result, the exhibit provides an interactive context for working towards a shared understanding of themes and ideas in art and art making.

    Every art student brings their own personal, social and cultural identity to their work.

    The above sculpture, made in ART 125 3D Design, uses autobiographical materials and concepts to discuss issues of femininity and childhood identity (the hair is from the student's first hair cut).

    sculptureIn the above sculpture, made in ART 240 Collage and Assemblage, the student employed minimalist ideas and modular sculptural forms to explore concepts about ancestral females as gatherers, which is rooted in the student's autobiographical experience as a child growing up in Alaska. She is investigating contemporary women's issues, particularly the idea of beauty and the role of ritual.

    Solve problems collaboratively: Though art studio courses often do not have a focus on traditional team-based learning, the art studio is a collaborative learning environment in which students share ideas and engage in group critique. The critique forms a forum for addressing problems in a work and students provide each other with constructive criticism. The exhibit itself is an extension of this process: The art faculty collaborate to present a diverse range of work within the context of a single, unified exhibit. Students participate in the initial selection and hanging process, which is later further developed and revised by the faculty. As a result, students experience collaborative problem solving outside of the classroom environment.

    exhibit overview

    Reason and act ethically: Students respect each other's property and employ fair use codes of conduct as applicable to the educational environment vs. the non-academic world. The notion of plagiarism is discussed within the realms of art-making, along with notions of homage, critique, duplication, replication, and copying from the masters. Students share concepts and techniques with each other and exchange ideas throughout the learning process without copying or misappropriation. Ethically questionable work or ideas are discussed at great length in individual and group critique. Students also learn to respect each other's work and ideas through the critique process. In addition, the notion of a work ethic is emphasized as being critical to student success in all art studio courses. Though primarily assignment-based, the amount and diversity of work and ideas on exhibit reflect these ideals.

    Demonstrate civic knowledge and engagement: The relationship between art and politics and the social role of the arts across history is a major focus of art and art history. Connections are often drawn through assignments and the dialog between historical periods and the present. Through the art student exhibit, students experience the editing process through which works are selected for exhibition as a critical response to the work; the element of inclusiveness provides an understanding of the political nature of an open group exhibit; the exhibit opening engages the student with the community, creating a dialog of response and reflection. Any work exhibited within a public setting engages in a dialog with the viewing community and students learn about being responsible for the work they created, the notion of applicable venues, and potentially controversial subject matter.

    discussing art and ideas at the opening
    Above: A student discusses his work with visitors to the 2012 Art Student Exhibit.

    Communicate in various modes and media: Students learn and employ the visual language to communicate to a broad and diverse audience; they present ideas verbally through individual presentations and group critiques; they interpret their ideas using a wide variety of materials and modes of art-making. Students work towards an understanding that communication in art primarily concerns not what an image is of, but what an image is about. The students' ability to develop form and content in their work is critical in this learning process. All of the images on this web page (in fact, web site) demonstrate a developing ability to communicate in various modes and media, including photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, video, found and natural materials, 2D, 3D, time-based, image and text.

    photography wall
    Above: Just one of modes and mediums represented in the 2012 Art Student Exhibit. Here the discourse of the photographic image ranges from the figurative to the abstract, from the observational to the narrative, from the intimate to the public.

    Use quantitative concepts and processes: Students use fundamental quantitative concepts such as scaling, proportioning, estimating, interpreting, mixing, and measuring throughout the art-making process. On evidence in the exhibit are demonstrated abilities in cutting proportional matts; mixing paint to create additional colors and shades; balancing light, shadow, and a range of grey tones in black and white photography; division of the two-dimensional plane into concrete areas of similarity and contrast; the application of the rules of linear perspective; the editing of time to create a narrative flow in video; and the estimation of scale relative to space.

    3D relief
    In the above image, the three-dimensional relief in the foreground is a scaled version of the two-dimensional color drawing on the wall in the background.

    chairs from Color course
    In the above image, the images painted on the chairs originated as two-dimensional artworks. The works were adapted to the form of the chairs so that they covered the three-dimensional surface. The chairs form the students' solution to the problem of scale, proportion, translation, and the accurate representation of color.

    Locate, evaluate and use various sources of information: Students use online resources, art faculty, and the library to supplement instruction and as part of the exploration/discovery inherent in the studio/art-making experience. Quite often students must research the solutions to problems they have created for themselves through the art-making process. On evidence in the exhibit is the students' ability to research the work of artists they respect and/or find inspirational; locating appropriate materials from which to construct sculptures and reliefs; and the problem-solving involved in combining media and creating balanced structures.

    three-dimensional relief
    Evident in the above work is the technical design solution to the problem of containing and presenting work of a fragile nature. While the wooden framework appears as the structure upon which the work was built, it is actually a frame used to suspend the finished work. The frame was constructed by the student and her father. The frame also functions as a logical device reflecting the origins of the paper and hearkens back to its original natural form, now suspending sheets of crumpled paper instead of leaves. The recycling of the once-read paper this way extends its life and purpose, albeit briefly.

    Explore the natural and physical world: Students visually explore the natural and physical world through form and space as they try to represent it on a two dimensional surface; they engage in observational drawing, which is the first step in educating the eye and in leading to an understanding and appreciation of the structural rules obeyed by the natural and physical world; they observe and draw the human figure from life; they use scientific methods to understand the fundamentals of color theory, including physical and chemical properties; they employ natural materials in the completion of assignments; they go out into the world to shoot images/video and bring those images back into the classroom. The images create a dialog between themselves and the images of other students and tell stories relating to the world we live in. How students have been instructed and have chosen to explore the natural and physical world is reflected throughout the exhibit.

    In the above image the exploration of the natural and physical world is clearly evident both in subject matter and the portrayal of that subject.

    In the above image of a tree, created by a first semester student in Design I, the tree is "drawn" using actual bark and other natural elements. The work will age and decay over time.

    Think creatively and critically: Creative and critical thinking is at the heart of the art-making process and is instilled in students in every art studio course they take; students must confront and solve design problems constantly as part of their work process; group and individual critiques develop within the student an ability to self-critique, which is essential to the development of the work of art. Every image in the art student exhibit reflects creative and critical thinking; stronger works are perhaps indicative of a deeper level of critical thinking in a more mature student, whereas less developed works and ideas are reflective of a beginning student.

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    First semester student work in Design I, reflecting an effort to deal with formal issues of space, composition, color, and texture.

    Apply, integrate, and synthesize learning: Students apply, integrate, and synthesize learning through the application of instructor-led assignments to the development of individual artworks, within and outside of the studio environment. Periodic and end of semester critique, individual course and transfer portfolios, and the art student exhibit provide evidence of this learning. The successful application of the underlying principles of design and form to reinforce subject and content in the work of art, along with the development of independent critical thinking, epitomize the mature art student.

    Colleen Clarke

    Colleen Clarke
    In the above images the maturity of the student is reflected through the sound application of design principles, including the effective use of space, color, proportion, balance, and overall composition; the level of investigation into the subject matter; the communication of ideas and intent; and the open dialog the works creates with the viewer.