Making Stuff (the joy of work)

Making stuff is what happens in art class (and, of course, in a few other classes – design technology, for example). For many art students, making stuff is the focus and the primary reason for taking art.

They may get into other course components  – the investigation, research, planning, reflection etc – because they have to. But they get into making stuff because they want to.

Of course, if they are taking IBDP visual arts they are, by default, making art – assessment descriptors ask for evidence of understanding  ‘the techniques that underpin artistic expression‘, development of ‘strategies for expression’‘sensitivity to materials and their use‘, and technical competence.

For most students, the very process of making art will tend to enhance  achievement in all these areas. It’s not quite ‘practice makes perfect’ – but it’s close.

It’s work, often undertaken on some subliminal motivational level – the inherent enjoyment of creating something physical, whether its a clay face, a lino-cut, a painting or a life size wood-and-chicken-wire and plaster bandage recreation of an elephant. Your mind is on the job at hand, your thoughts focus on second by second decisions, reflections, considerations, modifications.

OK, I admit, the phrase ‘the joy of work’ is probably not one you encounter on a daily basis, and it may even be a little strong in the context of an art class, but still the fact remains – for students who commit themselves to making stuff, there is an almost unspoken value-added element – and once they have left art class, or even left school, I doubt that many will ever experience it again.

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