Head, heart and hands – Key values of my art education
What is good art education today?
Should art education focus on traditional handmade techniques or is the future in new media?
Can an art pedagogue improve human well-being?
One thing I like about art and visual culture is that an art experience may make it possible for us to experience very different aspects of the world. Even though I think experiencing beauty and awe through art is of great importance to individuals, it is also important that art education introduces participants to a broad variety of topics and provokes opinions.
Art can bring together very different things in our lives and often, new things arise from these interactions. Learning how to think about, communicate and express opinions – both verbally and visually – is a key value of my art education.
Art and visual culture are powerful tools – also, to influence individuals. I think it is crucial that through art education individuals learn to read pictures critically and recognise ways of visual influencing.
As an art educator, it is my goal to introduce people to different themes and styles, controversial topics – as well as to make the world of conceptual art approachable. Offering connections to related topics in art history is an important role of the art educator and opens our understanding to today’s visual culture.
Working with the hands is of great importance to me and it is a key aspect of my educational praxis. In our digitalized world, both interest and skills in working with the hands on different materials are shifting towards new ways of working and creating. In the educational context art is continued to be cut back from the school contents and timetables, whereas in adulthood it may be hard to make time for learning new skills. Even though the act of creating by hand may bring joy to the creator, often it cannot compete with digital hobbies or a busy lifestyle.
On the other hand, there is a huge demand for art and craft courses, as they are experienced as balancing and meditative activities. Using the hands for creative problem solving, for example, is not only a meditative act, but also an action that requires - and therefore enhances - brain activity. The skills learned as a child support the brain in the learning of various things and may therefore be of great importance further on in life. As an art educator, it is my goal to make art and craft approachable to all individuals and to create settings, in which it is easy to learn and improve skills. And, most importantly: possibly light a spark for creating by hand.
Often, I am faced with different opinions on what art education is or what it should be. Whereas in art education for teenagers and adults the topic and learning goals are often freely defined, it seems to me that in a school context it is more challenging to define how art education should be done. The frame and learning goals are given from the government and schools, yet the teaching contents and exercises vary in every classroom. No other school topic can be interpreted and designed in as many ways as this one. But with the freedom, there comes the difficulty of choosing and excluding contents – a matter that brings out the art teachers’ key values.
Art education is not only learning how to draw, it is not only colour theory, it is not just seasonal paintings, or copying a readymade example. Art education in school is also experiencing art pieces, thinking and expressing thoughts; it is seeing, touching and smelling. It is a glimpse to the art world, it supports one's own artistic practice and offers a space for reflecting on the self and the world.
Furthermore, it is important to me that individuals learn to address the variety of feelings, which an art piece may bring up.
However, it is not only the art made by others that evokes feelings. In my art educational practice, sensing and touching things and materials are important starting points for the artistic process. Touching and sensing require a certain mind set, time and a space of reduced distractions. This is not always easy to arrange.
Untitled, collage, 10x15cm, 2018