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Using Visual Art as Means to

Embody Cultural Pluralism Abi Creech


THEORY
The world in which we live, now has faster, easier, and better connections than
ever before. The United States can contact China with the touch of a finger.
Someone from Brazil can video chat with another person in Australia with the
click of a button. People from all over the globe are migrating to new countries
not just to visit but to live. With these new communication tools and
transportation efforts, we have a need, now more than ever, to be able to
ethically understand and engage with one
another: cultural pluralism. Cultural pluralism
BETTER
will allow for countries around the globe to work
PRACTICE
together for the greater good of humanity;
Students should be exposed to a
technologically, economically, politically, and
wide range of artworks created
environmentally. In what ways can we achieve
from different regions of the world
this seamless global communication structure?
as well as different time periods.
Through the use of creating, interpreting, and
understanding visual art, one can start to
understand a culture that is different from their
own. When artists create work, they tell a story
of who they are and what they stand for, even if
it is unintentional. By creating visual art we are
communicating information about ourselves
with the viewer. When looking at an artwork, one can distinguish the messages
that the piece communicates. Through interpreting art, we visually read ones
story. This line of communication between creator and interpreter allows for an
effort of understanding one another. The creator becomes self-aware of their
own personal opinions and biases. The interpreter uses visual literacy to
understand the creators point of view. When we engage in this practice we
become more aware of the people who are similar and different from ourselves
and can begin to possess a culturally pluralistic character.

Students need to be encouraged to


create meaningful work containing
their personal feelings and
interpret other artists work to gain
awareness of the diversity around
the world.

PRACTICE
Recommended Strategies
Big Idea. Teaching art through big ideas is a great
strategy for getting students to think conceptually about
their artwork. When using big ideas, the class has one
or more overarching big ideas that lay the foundation
for their thinking within their work. From there, students
will undergo multiple different investigations that push
them further and deeper into their thinking within the
realms of the big idea. Examples of big ideas include but
are not limited to:
Transformation
Identity
Memory
Fear
Social Justice
Growth
Environment
Secrets
Communication
Culture
Spirituality
TAB: Teaching for Artistic Behavior. TAB encompasses
choice-based arts. Through TAB students learn how to
formulate and create art based on their own personally
developed concepts. Students undergo a two week boot
camp at the beginning of the school year that allows
them to become familiar with all media within the art
room. After that, students learn how to go about
developing their own concepts and creating art that clearly
defines their opinions within concept. This way of

teaching allows for students to choose what they


create: choice-based art.
VTS: Visual Thinking Strategies. VTS is a group
approach to interpreting an artwork. The instructor
begins by asking students to be respectful of the
differing opinions that might be expressed and to
listen carefully to what others have to say. Students
start by contemplating three open-ended questions:
What is going on in this image? What do you see
that makes you say that? What more can we find? All
interpretation is left to the students. The instructor
points to what is being talked about within the image
and paraphrases and connects students comments.
DAIJ: Description, Analysis, Interpretation, Judgment.
Follow the national known steps to art criticism.
Start by having students describe what they are
seeing in the image of the artwork. =Description.
Next, students should identify how the elements and
principles of art are being applied to the work of
art. =Analysis. Step 3 is to search for the meaning
with in the work of art. =Interpretation. The last
step is to form an opinion of the work. Is the piece
successful? =Judgment.
3, 2, 1 Notecards: 3 facts, 2 opinions, and 1
question you still have. You can use this strategy for
an artist or an artwork. This could take the form of
a reflection from a video or students could engage
in the research independently.

Exemplar Artists
Think. Pair. Share. In this activity students are presented
with an artwork and asked a higher level thinking question
about the artwork. Students will formulate their own
responses to the question, pair up with a classmate, and
share their answers with each other. From this activity,
students will experience the variety in interpretations of an
artwork.
AOD: Artist Of the Day. Present a different artist to the class
every day. Artists should vary in media, concept, region, and
time period.
Community Art Projects. Whether within the school
community or within the town community, collaborative art
projects allow students to get to know others. Talking with
local business owners and school administrators about ways
in which the students can provide art for them and their
space is a great place to start. This will teach your students
how to work collaboratively and ethically within a group.

What is art but a


way of seeing?
-Saul Bellow

Showing multiple artists from a variety of cultures


and time periods around the world is always a
great strategy for introducing cultural relativism in
the classroom. Below I have listed a few artists
who are great exemplars to use in the classroom
when addressing culture.
JR
Shirin Neshat
Carrie Mae Weems
Kara Walker
Diane Arbus
Ai Weiwei
Australian Tjanpi Weavers
Adrian Piper
Liu Wei
Kerry James Marshall
Wang Guangyi
Dorothea Lange
Tammam Azzam
Zhao Bandi
Shadi Ghadirian
August Sander
Gregg Deal
Steven Paul Judd
Marijke Everts
Nani Chacon
Frida Kahlo
Maysa Mohammed
Candy Chang
Daniela Rossell
Hani Zurob
Minerva Cuevas
Betye Saar
Afshin Pirhashemi
Aghiles Issiakhem
Lalla Essaydi

REFERENCES
Acuff, J. B. (2016, February/March). National Art Education Association. News, 58, 24.
Eck, D. L. (2006). The Pluralism Project. Retrieved April 11, 2016, from http://pluralism.org/what-is-pluralism/
Fussell, M. (2010, August 6). TheVirtualInstructor Blog. Retrieved April 11, 2016, from
http://thevirtualinstructor.com/blog/the-steps-to-art-criticism
Gude, O. (2009). Art Education for Democratic Life. Retrieved April 11, 2016, from
https://naea.digication.com/omg/Art_Education_for_Democratic_Life
Home - Visual Thinking Strategies. (n.d.). Retrieved April 11, 2016, from http://www.vtshome.org/
Teaching for Artistic Behavior. (n.d.). Retrieved April 11, 2016, from http://teachingforartisticbehavior.org/

FURTHER

YOUR RESEARCH

Olivia Gude: Art Education for Democratic Life


NAEA Committee on Multiethnic Concerns
Cindy Hasio: Are You Listening?
Museum of Art and Archaeology
Christine Woywood and Raoul Deal: Art That Makes Communities Strong
Art for Social Change
Americans for the Arts
HECUA
Art and Social Change
Stanford Social Innovation
Media Literacy Art Education
Shifra M. Goldman: Dimensions of the Americas
Charles Esche: Art and Social Change
Beverly Naidus: Arts for Change
Bill Ong Hing: To Be An American
Antonia Pantoja, Wilhelmina Perry, Barbara Blourock: Towards the Development of Theory
Thomas C Hogg and Marlin R. McComb: Cultural Pluralism: Its Implications for Education
Smithsonian Art and Culture
US Department of Art and Culture
Native Arts and Culture Foundation
Texas Magazine
National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures
Cultural Competence for Diverse Students
National Education Association
Diversity Toolkit
Cultural Competent Teaching
Empowering Educators