this term i'm teaching advanced 2d art. it's one of my favorite classes to teach because it is so much about ideas. it's about the kids making their own work, not mine. it can be tiring but incredibly fulfilling for me...and for them.
i spend the entire first week teaching them how to develop a theme they can work with for the whole term. this year what i did was to put pictures of famous works of art around the room. i then asked them to walk around and look at the work recording what they observed.
on the worksheets you see below i asked them to generally record themes & concepts (what the work was about) and subject matter (what was the work a picture of).
after a healthy debate about what i meant by themes & concepts, the difference between themes and subject matter, and a discussion about how anything could be a theme and the fact that many themes overlap we made this list as a group of possible themes to work with.
we also decided as a group that a theme was a big idea and definitely something you could hold or touch.
after this activity each student chose a theme they were willing to commit to for the entire term and they made a brainstorming web with their theme at the center. i use these webs as starting points for almost all the projects over the course of the term.
some students chose themes that are way too big. some chose themes that will go cliche real fast. i tried hard to control my natural tendency to save them by correcting these mistakes. they will suffer a bit, but through the suffering they will learn either not to choose such things in the future or how to grapple with it today. either way i'm pretty happy.
we'll see what kind of work we get.