Markuz Wernli Saitô
Thoughts on Art & Design Instruction
Art is relevant to our lives when it creates connections that didn't exist before. This begins with lifting the boundaries between applied and fine arts, traditional and new media, artists and researchers. Because art is a multi-sensory — not just visual — means of expression, as important and intrinsic to get a grasp of the world as other languages. As such, the mastery of techniques and media is integral. However, these aspects are but the grammar of art. They are the how, not the whyof art. Every acquisition of language requires meaningful interaction in the target language — natural communication — in which speakers are concerned not with the form but with the understanding of what they are conveying. Therefore context, meaning, and intent must be the focus in the art classroom over the principles of art and design. Artistic elements and principles equip students with a vocabulary that merely endorses a message. As in language teaching, instruction in art must be relevant to the students and posses real world pertinence. To this effect integral art instruction evolves around four components:
Media and visual culture intrinsically exposes us with promotional values and commodified ideas. It is important to learning to decode these messages and become adept at reading the cultural context (as seen in advertising and architecture) in order to choose which messages to accept or reject. The world is composed of aesthetic decisions that students need to be able to validate and deconstruct.
Solid art instruction encourages the comprehension of complicated ideas. As a teacher, I am looking at issues way beyond the art world, and take the whole of society into consideration for my curriculum. Social aspects like gender, identity, race, poverty, environmentalism and commodity exchange must become sources of discourse. Art production that is connected to life reality fosters the translation of complex concepts into personal articulation. The resulting explorations provide open-ended directions for creation and pragmatic models for students.
Experiences in art, like in the real world are multi-sensory and interdisciplinary. Incorporating subjects like science, technology, and other disciplines with art instruction compliments the web of connections that compose our lives. Furthermore, such cross-pollination creates fertile territory for innovative and exciting projects that mutually benefit art and other fields. These eclectic experiences further justify art education, strengthen the links within our minds, and create both relevant and realistic creative scenarios for students.
Art experiences should be associated with art-related fields. Graphic design, web design, fashion, photography, and architecture are all obvious examples of this idea. Art should motivate students and provide hard and soft skills necessary to excel in a wide-range of careers. Many students will eventually not become artists. However, they may end up working in the commercially or socially applied arts. Hence I recognize my responsibility for the student's later success by exposing them to a variety of career paths.
Infusing Media Literacy, Comprehension, the Multilingual, and Applications into art instruction will create a more meaningful and enriching learning experience not only for students. This approach will empower students to make more informed decisions in their lives, better understand creative expression in its many diverse forms, and expand the role of art in their lives and their visions of their places in the world. Students and teachers alike can expand and grow beyond the individual in the connective potential of art that exceeds mere aesthetics and technique.
Momentarium creates situations where our very presence becomes the catalyst for shifting experiences we can integrate into our lives by fusing reality with co-created artifice.