Nudes vs. Prudes

Discussions, and what is 'acceptable' I recently had a conversation that reminded me that even in my school, which I considered to be fairly enlightened and progressive, there are corners of old-fashioned, conservative and conformist thought. The discussion was about our regular figure drawing workshops for DP visual arts students, and it clearly made this person uncomfortable. Of course, if my school was located in a more conservative culture, this attitude would be predictable and understandable. But my school is located just outside ...

I Know about Assessment…But What’s ‘Best Fit’?

Assessment At the time of writing this, I’m moderating some work uploaded for the IA (visual arts exhibition) component for the November examination session, which means spending a lot of time scrutinizing artworks on multiple large screen monitors and also scrutinizing the words of the visual arts assessment descriptors (which I probably know by heart by now). Sometimes I very quickly come to a decision about the most appropriate mark, but quite often I see a range of achievement in different ...

What Price Freedom of Expression?

It would be stretching things to call me a rebel, or subversive, or even a dissident, but I have recently had my words censored! Well, OK, maybe not 'my' words exactly, but the words of a student in two pages of a book I co-authored together with S. Poppy and J. Paterson, The Visual Arts Course Companion (Oxford University Press, 2017). What happened? Large sections of two pages were obscured by what looks like brown paper, because the Chinese authorities clearly took exception ...

New Art Teacher? 5 Visual Arts Starting Points!

5 visual arts starting points It's September and in art rooms all over the world DP visual arts teachers are starting to teach this two year course. I recently received an email from an old friend who is now Associate Head of School at an IB school in North America. He wrote: 'We have an extremely talented art teacher who was new to the IB last year and, understandably, had some moderation issues.  She needs some guidance and I immediately thought of ...

Life Drawing: Is Nudity a Problem?

Does your school offer life-drawing? By this I mean do you, as a visual arts student, have the opportunity to spend time drawing and/or painting a naked human being who is posing so that you can make these artworks while he/she stands (or sits etc) in front of you? This opportunity seems not to be offered in many schools. Would you like to have this opportunity? In a recent IB workshop that I facilitated, a teacher asked the question “is nudity a problem?” He was ...

The Art of Protest

'Raising awareness' Art can do many things, and recently – certainly since the 1980s – we’ve seen a lot of artists focus on one thing in particular: the art of protest (or ‘raising awareness’). With seemingly more and more things to protest about and the ever-growing reach and power of social media to inform etc, ‘art’ has become the go-to vehicle to express angst, anger, frustration etc. and to ‘raise awareness’. We are more familiar now with a whole range of ecological and ...

Its All about RELATIONSHIPS (Thematic or Stylistic) in Your Visual Arts Exhibition

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... I started teaching DP Visual Arts a little over thirty years ago, in Tanzania, in the 1980s (at ISM). At that time both the IB and ISM were relatively new – the IB started in 1968 and ISM started in 1969. I was entering a new stage in my life:  living in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, going on regular safaris into the Serengeti, learning about a new school, a new country, new ...

Curious Curatorial Rationales

Curatorial issues As an examiner I've  read a lot of curatorial rationales over the last few weeks, and I wanted to share some rationale-related reflections. If you are a Visual Arts student in your first year (and in a May session school) then in around 9 months – or before – you will be writing one…  The words of the top HL Curatorial Rationale descriptor There are two strands – but many students hardly even address one. “…fully justifies the selection and arrangement of the ...

Academic Honesty: Acknowledge Everything!

I’m a visual arts examiner, so recently I have had the pleasure of looking at and assessing a wide range of uploaded visual arts work. It is one of the best parts of the job, and I really enjoy seeing the fantastic work submitted by creative and productive students from all over the world! "Reworking" Images As an examiner I regularly encounter "reworked" images that have either been directly copied from images found on the internet or are an adjusted/modified version of the ...

Become a Visual Arts Examiner!

Hi all, Like all May session Visual Arts teachers, a few weeks ago I uploaded a variety of files from my final year students - for assessment and moderation - to IBIS. If you teach IBDP Visual Arts, at some point you are going to do this: let go of your students’ work and offer it up to some distant and anonymous examiners and moderators, who will scrutinise the work, assess it (according to the descriptors for each of the three components) ...