Today in class we watched the movie, "Harsh". It was a very interesting film about two schools that were presenting the topic of aesthetics. Although the movie was a bit dated, it still resonated the same topic. What is aesthetics and how do we teach it to our students? Should our students even have to study aesthetics?
The answer, through DBAE is yes. We do need to teach aesthetics as well as criticism, art history and art production. The most important part of the discussion of aesthetics is to find the meaning of art. What is it? What is it not? Sadly, there is no true definite definition. Art is something that will always be evolving, changing and rotating. This does not mean that it is not a worthwhile subject.
In the movie, a high school art teacher lectured to his class about aesthetics and aesthetic experiences. He gave each student a clear cup of water and dropped one drop of red food coloring into it. As the color burst and expanded in the water, the students were asked to describe, with figurative language, the aesthetic experience. Some descriptions were very insightful! One girl said how the clear water was the Native American people and the red drop was Columbus, spreading the purity with disease and famine. As an assignment he had the students describe two aesthetic experiences from practical experiences they have everyday. They also had to describe a piece of art in an aesthetic way. It was interesting to hear how the words used were related to the study of aesthetics, but it did seem a little dated in a sense.
The middle school from the video was studying art in the community and how public art is different from art you would hang on your wall at home. They studied the purpose of these pieces and got into groups to role play the impact that the art has on the community and authority figures.
In my classroom, I hope to incorporate aesthetics in a specific lesson or plan like these teachers did. Until today, I hadn't ever thought about making it a specific discussion, which I think was very effective. I am currently taking a course called "Aesthetics" on campus, so between ARTED 308 and Aesthetics, I am really re-thinking what art is to me.
There will never be a universal definition of art, but I can make my own definition, and my students can make theirs. By educating them in the arts, and art theory, they will have the opportunity to define art for themselves and learn from their peers and me as their teacher to truly gather an understanding of art in our world.