In the final (Grade 12) course, we focus mainly on Contemporary Artand Artmaking Practices. Since art has changed immensely over the past 100 or so years, at the advanced level, our focus is on the ways that artists speak through art TODAY. Although many contemporary artists are inspired by history (and obviously we would be nothing without the artists that have come before us), this year, our focus will be on personalizing our art-making style, using new technology and media, and mining our own personal and cultural identities in order to make meaning through contemporary art practice.
The great thing about this course is that you will have an extremely broad choice of art-making tools, techniques, and practices to choose from - and you will be encouraged to be multi-modal in your making. In this course, we strive to make work that provokes curiosity, encourages dialogue, and ignites debate. We will be working thematically, and will use an inquiry-based approach to learning in preparation for our own creative process.
WHY CONTEMPORARY ART? A lot of students (especially those who arrive with a limited knowledge / exposure to contemporary artwork) question why I choose to focus on contemporary art throughout this course. Here are just a few of the reasons that I think it's important:
1) It's more 'realistic' - we are not sitting around grinding our own pigments in the 21st century, like Leonardo da Vinci did in the 1400's. Today we have access to incredible amounts of knowledge, understanding, visuals, media, technology, and people - and art-making now is incredibly different than the art of the past.
2) Focusing on art that is happening NOW allows me to present a much more broad range of artists than if I was to rely only on the (European, white, and male) artists that have been recognized for their work in the past. Fort Richmond Collegiate is a fabulously diverse place, and I think it would be weird for me to sit in a wildly diverse room of students and only show them art by the Ninja Turtles (Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello). Artists we discuss in this course come from varied cultural backgrounds, they are women, men, transgender, gay, straight, African, American, African, Indian, Chinese, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, etc... the only thing they have in common is that they are ARTISTS and they are WORKING NOW.
3) Artists now are multi-modal and multi-talented. It's rare to be just a "painter" or just a "sculptor". Artists making art today will often work in a variety of media - not labeling themselves after the medium they prefer, but rather, exploring ideas and inspirations through a diverse techniques, modes of production and ways to represent. Often, they come up with ideas and then play and experiment to find the best medium (or form, or method) with which to present them.
4) Long gone are the days of the solitary, lonely artist, locking him or herself away for days on end to 'follow a muse'. Many contemporary artists are resourceful, and social, and collaborate with others to develop work. With the internet and social media, many artists can make use of crowd-sourcing to develop ideas, find supplies, get help, find collaborators, and connect with an audience.
5) Artists now are much more interested in process - and having access to resources and information (videos, interviews, emails) that can help young artists understand the many ways that an artistic process can develop is essential! The process of making art includes conceptualization and idea development (or instigation), experimentation and play and risk-taking, problem-solving, re-framing, revision, re-conceptualization and tons and tons of production. As they say, it's about the journey, not just the destination.
An essential part of learning to be an artist and a creator is developing the ability to think critically and to reflect on your own practice. We will be having critiques once or twice a month, in order to 'check in' and to get feedback from your community.
Although the word "critique" comes from the word critical, this is not an exercise in judging the artwork of others! During crits, we will focus on three areas of discussion:
1) The Aesthetics: describing the artwork visually - its formal qualities (colour, shape, form, texture, space, composition, balance, contrast, emphasis, proportion, etc.) 2) The Concept: discussing the thinking behind the work, the theme, ideas, and process that was involved. 3) The Context: understanding the circumstances in which the art piece was made -the who, what, where, when, and why of the art. We will also speak, here, about the way it has been presented or displayed - and think like curators to make plans as to when, where and how other viewers could (or should) see the piece.
Final Exam - Coming Soon!
Your final exam will allow you to demonstrate those skills independently - you are going to be working on a practical piece (i.e. not a written exam) which includes an opportunity for you to demonstrate all of the skills and understanding you have developed this year.
Your final project (and practical exam) is to create an original art piece in ANY medium, inspired by the conceptual focus, ideas or themes of another contemporary visual artist.
- You must complete a minimum of 6 pages of plans / sketches / ideas / visual thinking / artist 'research' on the papers provided. Keep everything in the folder! - Up to 2 of those pages you create can be filled with collections of images collected from the internet (glued in, or taped in). - 1 page should be a (relatively finalized) detailed plan of what you intend to make (the final piece may change, develop, and grow along the way, of course - I just want you to have a general goal). This needs to be sketched in detail and in colour, and must include a 'materials' list so that I can plan for your needs. - Any printed/written information (magazine or news articles about the artist, interviews, etc.) is great to keep... and counts as process information... but should not be counted towards the page numbers required. - Document your 'creation process' with photography or video and include it on a USB stick when handing in your work. Get other artists in the class to take photos of you working!
TIPS TO CONSIDER:
These artists are ALIVE and working on art RIGHT NOW! Find a way to contact them with questions! Email them! Follow them on Twitter! Many of them even have films and videos out about their process / work (some of which are in the art room)!
Make sure you understand the artist's work in some way before beginning - remember that you are not copying / imitating the STYLE of the artist - any hack can reproduce something! You are working to develop your own original artwork, inspired by their ideas / concepts. This is not an "IMITATION" assignment or a test of only your technical skill!
Save photos in a Word Document in your school account to print in colour in the art room later. (The library will charge you for colour printing... you have been warned!)
If on the web, look at more than one website! Wikipedia may have some information, but is not entirely reliable. Many professional gallery sites have links to great images.
There are these amazing things called "BOOKS" which we have in the art room... we used to use them in the 'olden days'. They're made of paper and kind of heavy. Some are even about these artists! Please don't rely only on web information... ;)
Find articles, interviews, etc... and read them! You will learn a lot about an artist's ideas by reading their words - and the words of others about their work. DO NOT only look at pictures and then 'make up' what you think their work is about. Find out anything you can about the artist and their process, as well as the main ideas / concepts they work with in their practices.