Art is meant to be seen and experienced. That's why I'm so thankful that we have the North Carolina Museum of Art just down the road. It's an invaluable resource.
As the final project of our "Artists Curate" unit I challenged my students to complete and enter NCMA's Teens Inspired show. The assignment works like this - students select a work from the museum's collection and create a response piece. The also document process and write an artist statement. Submitted work is then juried by the Teen Arts Council. Awesome, right?
My teens were definitely inspired. The project had enough structure to support learning while building in enough choice to be challenging and leave room for each student's unique voice. I love how Teens Inspired has kids actively interpreting the work on their own terms, not passively listening to someone else's opinion.
Just look at these two works, both inspired by Beth Lipman's "Bride" and check out the thought behind each piece. Excerpts are from the student's blogs.
"What inspires me about this work is not just its appearance, or what the human eye might perceive at first glance. What inspires me about this work is the underlying message behind it, or rather, what I have defined as its underlying message. The broken glass is beautiful under the dim lighting, surrounded by looming shadows. I feel as though the composition of “Bride” is what possesses the greatest impact; the way the glass is arranged in tiers, much like the shape of a wedding cake. The glass is pristine and perfect at the top, possibly representing purity, chastity, virtue, cleanness, or even innocence. But as the observer’s eye descends, the glass gradually begins to display a different meaning—each tier a bit more ominous than the tier above.
I get inspired by this particular artwork of Lipman’s because it makes me want to create something tragically beautiful. “Bride” makes me want to imagine something that will make people think as much as I did when I began to observe this piece. " Liah , Art 2
"This piece inspired me in many ways, first the fact it was made out of glass and I found that material really cool, second the meaning behind it just really got my mind thinking. At first my idea was just something I said to make it look as if I was paying attention in class, then I build onto it and ended up liking it.
My idea was to take a glass bottle and broken pieces of glass and put it into the bottle, but on the broken pieces are words that tear us up on the inside. On the outside we are smooth and clean but on the inside we have our own war that we are fighting.
I had many challenges with this project, first I had to find a big enough bottle and let me tell you it's not easy. Then breaking glass, it sounds fun and looks easy on t.v. but it's not. You have to be careful not to breath it in or you could die, then you have to be careful you don't cut yourself, also you have to go through the pieces to make sure they fit through the opening of the bottle. Once that was all over I finally go to the fun part, writing on the glass, I asked some people around me what hurt them on the inside. It was a very fun experience I will admit that, but then the one part that stressed me to max. I had an idea to put the words " I'm Fine..." on the front of the glass bottle. Marker made it not look complete, I couldn't find the right colored pain and nothing seemed to work, after discussing this with my people I ended up titling it I'm Fine... it speaks for itself." Shelby, Art 2
I'm an high school art teacher who's really interested in student choice and creating opportunities for self expression. I'm also a writer for The Art of Education and co-author of The Open Art Room.