FSU Art Faculty Mary Stewart, Anne Stagg, Kevin Curry and Jeff Beekman will all be presenting at the Foundations in Art: Theory and Education Conference (FATE) this week.
This talk explores projects and methodologies that engage students in the everyday world around them, promote research, and encourage broad perspectives in art-making. Routinely foundation-level students don’t know what it really means to make “conceptual art,” nor do they understand how to begin making it. I will present projects that focus on context, collaboration, research, and conversation as a means of generating content. Instead of the more traditional model where students work independently in the classroom and then critique the results, this model brings discussion and context to the forefront. Students work together to research, develop and respond to ideas, methodologies, and content before making, discussing, refining and engaging a broader audience. This not only allows for a better understanding of the objectives, but also creates a safer place for risk-taking. Additionally, by allowing students to have freedom for further decision-making, they feel a sense of ownership that helps shift the focus from an “I” to “we” based model serving to broaden the scope of the projects as well as the perspectives of the student. When projects begin with conversations, students are more often aware of how they are communicating and are more willing to engage, show empathy and compromise.
I move Digital Foundation students through a traditional (Concept/Design/Execution) creative process while challenging them to use the extensive technologies at their disposal here at Florida State University and in doing so, have them see that technology is merely another tool.
Having them move their designs “off the screen” and back into the analog world, where issues of physical craft and assembly deny the finished glaze of screen-based art, establishes a path for the highest caliber of intellectual and physical work.
Students are introduced to a variety of software (some free) such as Sketchup, Tinkercad and Illustrator to show how these programs can be used in conjunction with laser cutters and 3D printers to move their work beyond the reproduction of trinkets and widgets.
In contrast to a “look, but don’t touch” philosophy, students are encouraged to use everything at their disposal to expand their ideas and thinking that are too often held captive to the scale of a ‘build-platform’ or laser-bed. Once they have seen what is possible, they are then challenged to bring their voice to the conversation.
One of the biggest challenges when teaching observational drawing is about more then learning how to skillfully render. Observational drawing provides students the much-needed opportunity to slow down, focus, and really look at and think through an object or space well enough to craft an engaging response. Also, through undergoing the similar task of making marks in pursuit of a faithful likeness, students gain a contextual understanding of the decision-making processes artists throughout history have made.
Still, these are changing times, and while expanding attention spans and engaging in one of the most enduring traditions in art is invaluable, in this panel I am interested in discovering how instructors nationwide are rethinking observational drawing today. How has drawing a still life, for instance, been adapted to better engage Foundations students and prepare them for what they will experience in the future? What new approaches and technologies for drawing are being encouraged and taught in classrooms across the country? It is my hope that the productive dialogue facilitated by this panel will both expose the breadth of what is being done today and provide a forum where new ideas will emerge.
Professor Mary Stewart helped to kick off the biannual Foundations in Art: Theory and Education with a presentation titled Shifting from Teaching to Learning.