Today was the start of a four-day week. I’m looking forward to the four-day weekend as it will allow me to complete a lot of work related to my Student Teaching and my Undergraduate Thesis. I’m hoping to complete a good amount.
Today was kind of the first time I was able to see some artwork from the AP students. My cooperating teacher announced to the class that she will no longer be assigning work because the students should be focusing on fulfilling their AP requirements. She’s expecting them to independently complete their artworks, photograph them, and submit them to the CollegeBoard website for credit. Because the students should be creating their own artwork for their Concentrations and Breadth, my teacher does not want to complicate the process with assignments.
One student in particular was upset with this decision.
“You won’t be giving us any more assignments?! But I’m already done with my Concentration and my Breadth!” she pleaded.
This is the student who is constantly asking if we can learn something new today. She’s incredibly interested in learning and will often watch me as I work on creating examples during their class. My cooperating teacher asked me to help this student figure out what to do with the rest of the semester, so I began by asking her to pull out all of her artwork to show me what she’s accomplished.
The AP students are required to complete a Concentration and a Breadth. The Concentration is a collection of related works that create a strong series. The Breadth is the chance to show everything that the student can accomplish. Basically, the Concentration is focused on quality while the Breadth is somewhat focused on quantity. The students need to show their best abilities in their Concentration and their vast array of talents in the Breadth.
The student pulled out all of her work and spread it across the desks. She pointed out her Breadth and her Concentration and she had been telling the truth. She had several artworks for both categories. I looked over her Concentration and it was strong. All of the pieces were clearly related and effectively conveyed her message as they focused on adolescent abuse. After looking her Breadth over, however, I did have several suggestions. For the rest of the class period, I spoke with the student one-on-one and critiqued her artworks and gave her suggestions on how to strengthen her Breadth. This student focuses on portraits, particularly self-portraits, so I encouraged her to create landscapes, animal portraits, and abstract works. She also largely worked in colored pencil and used realistic colors, so I challenged her with creating a monochromatic piece, achromatic, analogous, triadic. I pushed her to use charcoal, pastel, and other media. The student seemed incredibly receptive as she was furiously writing down my suggestions. We used the computer to look at artists and their styles. I showed her abstract works and talked with her on how to create them.
“I can’t create abstract works. My brain doesn’t work that way,” she explained.
I introduced her to Georgia O’Keeffe, an artist whom she had never heard of, and whom I felt could be an inspiration for her. O’Keeffe tends to illustrate flowers, but she changes the perspective, the brushstrokes, and the colors of the flowers to create abstract works. Her artworks are not direct copies of photographs, which several of this student’s pieces were. At the end of class, the student felt inspired and driven to further her Breadth and challenge her limits. I felt proud to have given her guidance.
Within the Art I classes, my fear came true as we had three injuries throughout the day. Thankfully, the injuries were minor cuts to the fingers, so students were instructed to clean the wounds with hot, soapy water, to apply pressure to the wound, and to cover the cut with a bandage. My teacher and I would then sterilize the linoleum cutter with hand sanitizer before returning it the student. It amazed me that students wounded themselves when I spent so much time and effort showing them how to use the linoleum cutters properly. In each Art I class I would carefully monitor the class, watch each student cut, and would correct students who were cutting in a dangerous manner. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve pointed out to students that their hands were directly in front of their blades. Often, I would stop a student and show them how to place their hand behind their blade to hold the linoleum down and insure that they will never cut themselves. There was an issue, however, when some of the classes began to run out of bench hooks. For classes with almost 40 students, my cooperating teacher didn’t have enough bench hooks for each student to have his own. This created a few issues with some students wanting bench hooks without any available and some students now feeling that bench hooks were optional. In my opinion, they should have been mandatory for the students as it helps them learn the correct way to carve. Because of the shortage, I made sure to personally show each student without one how to make up for it and where to put their hands. Even with all of my help, there were still some students who downright refused to cut correctly, saying that they hadn’t cut themselves yet and they knew what they were doing.
I feel more comfortable with printmaking than I had before as I’ve seen how it can function in an Art I class. We haven’t started printing yet, as we’ll start that tomorrow or the next day, so I’m still anxious to see how that will go, but for the most part, linoleum printmaking now seems much more plausible to me than it had before. I know I’ve done printmaking in high school before, but I’ve never seen an art room so small and crowded like this one with such rowdy, unruly students.