- Why Art?
For the Whole of Their Life.
This week some of our Year 8 students were asked:
- “What is it you like about art? Why do you do it?”. Here are three responses:
- “I like art, because I am able to express my experiences, feelings and thoughts through artwork.”
- “When I do art, it’s like my own little bubble and all of my worries, anxiety and stress disappears for a moment.”
- “The freedom in art allows me to explore my creative side, experiment and make mistakes.”
(See the end of this article for our students’ work with in-depth explanations)
Over recent years in the U.S. there has been an emphasis on incorporating STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) into education. Wolport-Gawron wrote about the U.S., “This country is going crazy for STEM. STEM, STEM, STEM. But the fact is that if we don't focus on the arts, on writing, on speaking, we're neglecting how to communicate that which we find so important.” Virginia McEnerney also says of her country, “Our contemporary economy depends and thrives on innovation and new ways of thinking about and seeing the world. This is exactly what arts education nurtures - young people who, through creative practice, develop the skill to imagine the world differently.”
Thankfully we don’t always mirror the U.S. education system, as they begin to see what they have been missing. In Australia, we have had a push for STEM and quite rightly so, but not at the neglect of other subjects. STEM is important for our modern society, and so are the Arts. We could just add “A” for arts and turn it into STEAM, but then what about Sports and exercise? And what we can learn from History? And Whole of Life education? The list would go on and we would end up calling it “school”.
“Whilst even countries like the United States have been stalling on creative education innovation, and cutbacks in places like the UK threaten to side-line creativity education once again, our northern neighbours in China, Korea and Finland are revolutionising the ways they incorporate creativity into their core education, and understand its crucial connectivity to global industry” – Anne Harris and Leon de Bruin.
They go on to say, “Incorporating Australia-centred, education-adapted design thinking that mindfully intersects with cross disciplinary and creative pedagogies in pre-service teacher education are changes Australia urgently needs.”
Across Australia, it is typical to find that subjects such as commerce, business studies and maths have strong numbers of students, however, I believe when parents get a deeper understanding of creative thinking, of natural strengths and passions and ‘soft’ (thinking, listening, social, creative, attitude…) skills, they will begin to influence their children towards subjects that encourage more creativity, such as the Arts.
Arts include drama, music, painting, drawing, literature, sculpture and everything else that is an expression of what it means to be human. Encouraging and educating in the Arts in our modern culture is more important than ever. With creative and design thinking, our minds naturally look for solutions to problems. Rather than seeing the negative side to difficulties, our student’s minds will go into overdrive, thinking of possible ways of progressing. Rather than hitting a wall, they may find themselves building steps over or cutting through or ……?
It is easy enough to find much research on how music, drama and arts improve academic results. Through the Arts, through play, through being creative, young minds are being nurtured, stimulated and developed and not surprisingly, there is even research that links wellbeing to this type of stimulation and education.
Our hope is that our school is a place where at every turn, the imagination is stimulated and stretched and that creative minds are set racing with possibilities. We hope to achieve this through wall murals, displayed art works, creative furniture, music, sculptures, musicals, problem based learning (PBL) opportunities and small business programs. I believe that every student will discover where their passion lies and this will bring an excitement for their future.
Our school already excels in musicals and we have an amazing music program that reaches down to Year 3. We have PBL in the curriculum where it works best, our Arts Department seem to always produce some of our best HSC results and our Junior School classrooms often look like you are entering a new world due to the student art displayed everywhere.
Recently our Arts department has been in contact with local artists with a vision to paint inspirational wall murals around our school and in our art rooms. I have also recently been working with Gillie and Marc, who are world-renowned sculptors. You can see some of their work at the Soldiers Point Marina and the Maitland Art Gallery, but mostly in New York, USA. I gave them the brief to design a sculpture that inspires creativity and encourages dads to read to their children. Gillie and Marc’s answer to the brief is brilliant. An adult size, dog man, in bronze, reading to his children whilst sitting on a log. Gillie and Marc use Dog Man and Rabbit Girl to demonstrate tolerance – as dogs normally chase rabbits, but in our world of multiculturalism, it is important for us all to get along.
This sculpture concept will become a reality if we can find a very generous donor. The sculpture takes approximately one year to build and involves starting with clay, then a fibreglass mould followed by coating the sculpture in bronze. The cost will be $55 000 and I am hoping that somewhere in our Port Stephens community, there may be a generous donor who loves the concept of promoting the Arts and reading to our children. Please let me know if you can help!
As with all art, it evokes emotion and you either like it or dislike it. It usually gets people talking and that’s the main point. It encourages conversations around what it means to be human.
Here is Gillie and Marc’s concept:
We serve a creative God and as we are made in His image, it is no wonder that His nature is evident in each and every one of us.
Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
Psalm 104:24-25 “How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number—living things both large and small.”
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Thank you for reading.
Mr David McKinnon
Eloise Lavis - Year 8
I was trying to communicate the feeling and experience of social anxiety
The distorted/blurred eyes represent the distorted/poisoned view of themselves for someone who experiences social anxiety.
The multiple black figures, with eyes, represent the feeling of being constantly watched and judged by strangers.
The blurred face of the alien-like figure in the foreground represents the negative impact on self-image and the loss/change of self-identity
Peter Tink - Year 8
This appropriation of Hokusai’s “Great Wave off Kanagawa” represents the goodness, happiness and hope being wiped away by the darkness of today’s society - a modern dystopia.
The black crests of the wave, represents the corruption, crime, war, environmental change and destruction caused by various heads of government and the corrupt capitalism. The colourful parts of the wave represent all the hope, efforts and rebellion failing due to the power of the heads of capitalism controlling most of their needs.
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