Monday, 23 February 2015

Mainstream Street Art?

Is Street Art caught between two worlds?  Since when did street art become the next best thing, showcased on primetime TV?  How do we showcase art that is viewed as subversive by many, illegal to some?  Does this appreciation somehow strip away some of its appeal?

Watching a show like this reminds me of my taste in music when I was a kid.  I remember hearing a song and thinking it was great, until someone else said that they liked it or I heard it play on the radio... several times.  It didn't feel like my song any more because everyone else liked it just as much.  I'm guessing that, somewhere, some serious street artists are cringing when they see clips from Street Art Throwdown.  

But maybe the artists are thrilled to have a new venue to share their work?  What if I'm mistaken, and my perceived cool factor for street artists is somehow mistaken because I lack the familiarity that so many other people have.  My knowledge of street artists and their work may never lend itself to understanding their goals and expressions.  I have never lived in an urban centre, and my Northern lifestyle may have stunted my ability to connect with some really talented artists.  

The thing is, I have students who study art.  I'm writing this for them, because I want them to see how someone can approach unfamiliar art forms and begin to shape an opinion, supported by prior knowledge.  I also want to assure them that it's ok to consider contrary opinions without losing any substance to your own argument.  In fact, providing several perspectives adds significantly more strength to one's ideas.

Captivating work, found on a train in Thunder Bay.  Fall 2014.

Is there a way to appreciate the culture of street art if you are unfamiliar with the people who created it?  ...and the places it is made?  What about train graffiti, which is made to travel?  Does impermanence help us value graffiti?  

So many questions, so few answers.  Hopefully we will begin to make connections with artists whose experience can enlighten us.  

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Art Criticism

What is art criticism?  Why do we need to know how to criticize art?  Isn't criticism a negative word? Is it important to be able to criticize our own art?  

In the video shown above, Gabriel Orozco provides a "Mirror Crit" for his students (and for us).  With little-to-no previous information about the artwork, he presents and discusses the work of his students as if each piece were his own.  

Questions for students: 
  1. What does this tell us about the importance of context?
  2. How would you feel if Gabriel discussed one of your artworks using the Mirror Crit?
  3. Do you understand your own work well enough to have it criticized?  
  4. What would you learn by having your work criticized?

#NipRockArt students will be using critical analysis to view and understand artworks throughout the remainder of the semester. 

Image provided by Ontario's Ministry of Education ~ Visual Arts Curriculum

Start looking at art with new eyes.  What do you see?  Do you appreciate the artwork, or is there something missing?  How can art analysis help you understand and value art in a new way?


Resource:  Google Art Project

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Giving Back

To help students understand the impact of their actions as well as the power of art, grades 9 through 11 are exploring the theme of Giving Back throughout the month of December.  Before they begin their holiday break, students will be looking for ways to use art to benefit others.

Each class will be working together to think of individuals or groups that can benefit from their help, and the focus will be on members of our local communities.

Students need to understand that they have the ability to make a difference, so we have been trying to understand how our actions can help us take a stand against our fear of trying new things.  By contributing, we show others that we can work together and share common concerns rather than holding back because we're not sure how others may judge us.

These studies align very well with our curriculum, which promotes connections between art production and social values:  [students will] " demonstrate an understanding of how art works reflect the society in which they were created, and of how they can affect both social and personal values". (Ontario Arts Curriculum)

We will be examining the work of a variety of artists (such as Callie Curry, profiled in the video above) who use their art to benefit others.  Look through *this Pinterest board* if you would like to browse through the work of other artists we'll discover this month.

Related link:  "Give 4 Christmas Challenge"


Tuesday, 2 December 2014


What a great time to begin our new unit in art.  #NipRockArt students will be exploring many possibilities for using art to help others this month.  We will focus on our communities, thinking of the ways that others experience the holiday season.  

If you have any suggestions for our students, please feel free to leave a comment on this post, or tweet to #NipRockArt.  We would love to hear your ideas.  



Thursday, 13 November 2014

Messing With Your Mind

Time to see if we can see things a bit differently.

A student wants to explore perspective soon, so these resources should be really useful...

The Ambassadors

Monday, 10 November 2014

Kyoko Visited Our Class Today

Grade 11 students are participating in an International Intercultural Mural Exchange with Japan (Japan Art Mile).  Kyoko Oyakawa visited our class today to help us learn about Japanese culture. 

Thank you, Kyoko!