Journal Entry#7: Write a reflection of your fieldwork experience. Provide specific examples you think were successful and not so successful.
Having attended two classes of collage, I found that one was successful in reaching its goal of developing critical thinking on important topics and another was unsuccessful. One class had a mini tour at the beginning where issues of feminism and race were explored in art. In the studio, students worked with collage and demonstrated an understanding on the use of art to address social issues as many topics emerged on poverty, feminism, race and equality. On the other hand, the group that spent the whole time in the studio without a tour made images based on shallow topics. However, they demonstrated a better understanding of formal elements. Thus, I find that students need helpful examples on art as a tool to speak out and address moral and social problems before making their own. I also find that formal elements should be addressed when showing examples, so that both the understanding of portraying social issues as well as formal elements can be better understood and thus demonstrated in students’ artworks.
Another class on printmaking also explored social justice through a mini tour, and presented printmaking as an art that can be easily reproduced to spread awareness on social issues. This class was not very successful as students did not react to the ideas presented in the mini tour in their artworks. Rather, they were much more engaged in discovering the process of printmaking and their thoughts were focused on making sure their images would be properly mirrored when stamped, not the topic of the image itself. I think more time should be given to this activity where the process of printmaking is explained first and the students experiment with it. Then, the mini tour would be presented with the topic of social justice and the students will have already understood how one can make a stamp, and will be ready to explore topics in their work.
Journal Entry#6: Write a critical reflections on your research, your work and field experiences at the AGO.
Activities at the AGO offer different outcomes for the participants depending on the nature of the activity. At the Hands-On Centre dedicated to toddlers and their adult companions, usually one of the child’s parents, focuses on bonding time for the child and adult. The activities at the Hands-On Centre are optional as some toddlers are too young for them, or show more interest in playing with their parent. The Hands-On Centre teaches basic techniques that are fun for a young age, but does not force the visitors to partake in the activity. I find that this encourages children’s creativity in a comfortable environment with their parent(s), given the freedom to withdraw at any time allows the child to feel comfortable in a learning environment.
At the studio where Grade 8 students are making collage pieces, the activity provides an insight on critical thinking while making visual art on an individual level. Each student is engaged in making an individual artwork. I believe that this activity encourages students to think about visual elements in art such as composition and layering, as well as generating a topic to make art about. I find that Grade 8 students are more comfortable working on their pieces individually, but are open to advice and opinions from their classmates.
Journal Entry#5: Document your reflection of the pedagogical workshops you have had thus far. What do they mean for you? How have they changed your perceptions or broadened your perspectives of art education? Provide specific examples.
During my internship at the AGO I have attended two studio workshops for Grade 8 students on collage. The use of collage is used to explain foreground, middle ground and background as well as a method that helps in generating a topic. The project presented to students explains the concept of foreground, middle ground and background differently from the way I received it as a student during my childhood where it was explained using drawing/painting and perspective. This, naturally, led to insecurities among my classmates as they started to compare their drawings to others, evaluating them in terms of drawing skills, and thus forgetting the main purpose of the lesson. At the AGO, layers of acetate were used to have the students add background, middle ground and foreground to each layer, providing a clearer understanding. Through the use of collage, students use ‘ready made’ photos and images from magazines. I find that this eliminates competitiveness and insecurities involving drawing skills. Having students search for images that interest them at the start of the activity also reduces the confusion that has usually overwhelmed a class in my experience as a student where students spent a lot of time thinking of good ideas instead of creating. Having them collect images first automatically generates a topic for them, and fuels their creativity and interest.
Journal Entry#4: Open entry. Use photos, videos, etc., to discuss a topic in art
education that is of interest to you.
Complementary colours in an artwork can effectively portray a mood or explain a topic clearly through their strong contrast. I find that learning about the colour wheel and complementary colours has had a great impact on my artwork. They create balanced and striking paintings.
In my high school experience, the colour wheel was not explained. We were simply told to paint it, and the teacher never expanded on the topic. Once the use of the colour wheel was explained to me at university, it has helped me to not only create better paintings in their visual sense, but to portray my feelings more strongly and effectively. Topics such as my identity as an immigrant was better demonstrated through the use of the contrasting orange and blue to show the difference in warmth and mood in both countries, as is shown in one of my artworks below.
Laura Bassem S. Saleh, (Painting from diptych:) Melting, 2016.
Thus, educating students about complementary colours gives them the power to better express themselves regardless of their interests in art. For example, the painting below by Eyvind Earle is one used for the film “Sleeping Beauty”, and engages the eyes as it follows the characters of colours complementary to the background, showing that the colour wheel can also contribute to storytelling. Another use of contrasting colours is
demonstrated by Van Gogh as he uses complementary colours to set a mood and explain his feelings in scenes of settings and landscapes.
Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night, 1889.
Journal Entry#3: Choose an exhibition at the AGO (or another gallery). Be sure to label the exhibition and the gallery it is located in. Include an image if you can. Write a critical response of the art works, discuss how the work is curated, what would make it stronger, reference the names of artists in the gallery and provide feedback on how the exhibition could be more inclusive if not already.
The exhibition ‘Once Upon a Time’ was shown in the TD gallery at the Toronto Reference Library featuring artworks from the Osborne collection of Early Children’s Books.
The artworks shown ranged from the 1800s to contemporary. For example, ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ illustrated by Thomas Webster is made in 1843 is hanged next to another illustration of the same scene by Mireille Levert in 1995. These two artworks are shown side by side, providing insight on how fairy tales are perceived in different time periods.The illustration by Webster shows the original intention and moral of the folk tale: warning young girls from interacting with dangerous men, whereas Levert’s artwork shows a contemporary perspective on the tale as Little Red Riding Hood looks like a little girl rather than a young adult, showing that today this tale doesn’t focus on its initial moral but encourages little ones to obey their parents.
Another comparison of historical views on classic stories is provided through two illustrations of Cinderella where the first illustration is very detailed and focuses on the beauty of its characters, and the more recent one is made of scribbles and undefined lines, and puts emphasis on the action taking place and the plot line rather than the physical traits of the character.
All the illustrations and artworks exhibited are made by Western artists, although some diversity is demonstrated in showing tales from minority backgrounds: Jewish, Chukchi, Japanese and Korean stories.
The work is curated in many forms. Some illustrations are hanged on the wall with a description next to them that also includes a summary of the less known stories to provide a background on the tales. The exhibition presents various methods of communicating stories through art. It includes books, games, film and ceramics. It also has a small table with paper and colouring materials for children to create stories.
I think the exhibition could have been more inclusive if it included other artworks outside of the Osborne collection as all of the artists featured are Western. Personally, my interest in folk and fairy tale illustrations is rooted from a book about a Turkish fairy tale I had as a child that was illustrated by an Egyptian woman artist. I believe this image is one among many examples of artworks from children’s stories in the Middle East that would provide more insight to standards adopted by different cultures. For example, this artwork could show comparisons on standards of beauty among different cultures if it were included side by side with a Western illustration of Cinderella.
Journal Entry#2: Open entry. Use photos, videos, etc., to discuss a topic in art education that is of interest to you. Write a critical reflections on your research, your work and field experiences. Include drawings, sketches, doodles, brainstorms, etc.
I believe the link between narrative and visual art is important for children as it expands their imagination and enables them to communicate and express themselves clearly. According to Bruno Bettelheim, a child psychologist, fairy tales help children overcome their unconscious fears, identify and express their feelings. To trigger these connections with a story, he states that it must engage and activate a child’s imagination.
In my own experience, art education in my homeland provides topics that the student visualizes in his drawings. Although it wasn’t a successful method as the majority of the class was often not engaged in this activity because of academic competitiveness as to who draws better rather than creativity, it allowed me to push the limits of expectations. For example, when instructed to draw about outer space, I started to portray a narrative of aliens capturing humans. This then led to my writing and illustrating a story outside of class of aliens capturing my brother and I in the middle of the night, and how we overcame them. This reflects my childhood fear of monsters or other evil creatures appearing in my room during the night, and visual storytelling provided me the assurance of overcoming such dangers should they occur.
In my volunteer experience, children were given colouring pages to have them engaged in an activity while their older siblings attended their lessons. The children were often bored by this. When given the opportunity to work on a blank piece of paper, they were completely engrossed in their drawings and started discussing them with each other and didn’t want to leave when it was closing time.
I believe that art education should encourage younger students to create stories and tell them to better communicate their feelings or fears and identify interests through imagination and creativity, keeping creativity as the main focus.
Journal Entry #1: This article focuses on higher education. Write a response and pose some ideas you think you could implement in your own teaching practice. Finnigan, T. (2009), ‘‘Tell Us About It’: Diverse student voices in creative practice’. Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education. 8: 2, pp. 135–150.
Finnigan’s article tells of a project called “Tell Us About It” that encourages students from diverse and minority backgrounds to express their feelings openly on their university experience. I find that the project is very important as Art and Design teachers would better understand the student’s thoughts through a common language of creativity rather than through words that may label the student as ‘different’ when trying to explain his struggles. It also aims to show that students are able to perform, meet, and even surpass academic expectations when given projects relevant to their personal experiences and backgrounds rather than those that alienate them, dispelling the prejudice of some educators.
From my personal experience, I think providing openness in academic projects is of vital importance in a student’s first year attending university in a new place. The student is physically outside of his comfort zone, while educators try to push the student outside of his artistic comfort zone. I find that this is a big mistake because an Art student would find consolation through creating art in a manner he is comfortable with. When pushed to use different materials, paint on sizes that intimidate him, or address specific subject matter that is irrelevant to him during his first year, it discourages the student as he is given no chances to find comfort amidst the confusion of his alienating environment, it alienates him further. Thus, I believe that self-directed assignments are important in a student’s first year in a new setting because it enables him to realize his topics or materials of interest and will allow for him to address and question them as he continues his education in following years. It also gives a chance for the student to express himself and have his educators gain a better understanding of his background. Such assignments, accompanied by basic technical teaching (i.e. the colour wheel) will lend to the growth of the student’s practice without alienating him.