“Raising awareness of world issues” – The pitfalls (Concepts and Exhibition)

Conceptually speaking, the trouble with 'raising awareness' of world issues in your visual arts exhibition is that in most cases, awareness has already been raised, and examiners will probably have seen your video of ice melting - or a person swimming with plastic bottles, or a collage made of rubbish, or a Photoshopped photo of chimneys belching smoke, or cars polluting with their exhaust fumes, or oil pouring into the ocean etc - many times before. Conceptual qualities mean you ...

Photography (only?) in the Exhibition

Let’s be clear: unlike the Process Portfolio, there are no requirements that students explore a range of media/processes in the Exhibition. A successful exhibition could consist of, say, ten artworks that all explore the same technique, or ten artworks that explore ten different techniques/ processes, or anything in between. Its May so – as an IA moderator - I’m enjoying looking at student exhibitions from all over the world.  Its always an exciting and often inspirational glimpse into the minds, concerns, ...

See Real Art: Visit an Art Gallery!

Student question:“It’s 2019. What is the point of looking at art that was made in 1520, five hundred years ago? How is that relevant to me?” We were at the Royal Academy (London) and looking at “Venus Rising from the Sea”, by Titian (1520) The Renaissance Nude exhibition runs at the Royal Academy of Arts 3 March — 2 June 2019 The Renaissance Nude I can understand the context of this question. The student who asked it is interested in videogame ...

Seven Questions about Starting to Teach the Course

In recent category 1 visual arts workshops I have been asked some great questions about our subject; for example, what to teach, how to balance the things we teach, how much time we should have to teach in, how to connect to other subjects, etc. Here are the questions with my answers. If you would like to attend an IB authorized teacher training professional development workshop, go here. There are 36 visual arts workshops between now and December. 1. “Do I teach about techniques ...

COHERENCE? (‘Here is your theme. Stick to it for the next two years’)

Reconsider the theme: is it always a bad idea? There are many things wrong with these two sentences, as uttered by a visual arts teacher to one of his students. First of all, you don’t need to have a ‘theme’. Second, if you – the student – want a theme, it should NOT be selected and ‘enforced’ by your teacher. I've been told that some teachers give their students a 'theme' that has to be followed for two years. If ...

Questions about the Comparative Study

I have received some questions from students about the Comparative Study, mostly – but not all – about making connections to the students’ own art-making practice. The last one dropped in as a comment on a blog posted way back in February 2018 (from Antonella). Here they are, together with my answers. 1. Hi, I figured I’d like combine my three artworks to show the connections. Can I make a painting that has bits of each to show how they have influenced ...

Are You “Critical, Informed and Discerning”‘?

Great new art… Much new, contemporary and recent art is fantastic – intelligent, thought-provoking, sometimes perplexing and mysterious, frequently posing deep and/or unsettling questions. But of course, it’s not all fantastic. How could it be? Some of it is conceptually vacuous and says nothing new, or superficial, pretentious and takes itself a little too seriously. Not so great new art I don’t want to be sued by anyone, so I’m not mentioning names, but check out this and this – online reviews of two 2017 ...

Students Can Take 2 IBDP Arts Subjects!

It's February, and grade 10 students in my school are starting to consider and possibly start selecting the subjects they would like to study in grade 11 as part of their Diploma Programme courses. My school is a ‘full’ IB school: we offer all four IB Programmes: CP, PYP, MYP and DP. Occasionally one or two students start grade 11 just taking three or four subjects with the ‘certificates only’ option, but everyone else takes the full Diploma – six subjects plus ...

Exploring the World Around You

The senior examining and assessment teams have been looking through examples of work submitted in the recent visual arts examination sessions (May and November 2017 and 2018) in order to find helpful samples for teachers. It has become clear that occasionally art teachers award marks for the exhibition component that do not really reflect the quality of the work submitted. When this happens, the marks are usually too generous, although in a few cases they are too harsh. Either way it’s not ...

The Best Primary Source – Talk to the Artist!

Research into art The Comparative Study and the Process Portfolio both involve some level of research into and review of artworks. Inevitably, for many students a lot of this research is ‘second-hand’, e.g. looking for information on the Internet. There is nothing wrong with this (providing everything is correctly referenced and all sources are acknowledged!). Better still is to actually see the real thing, for example, by visiting an art gallery. The horse's mouse However, for information gathering and the answers to specific questions ...