2 April 2013
First - I'm kind of out of
sequence here. Just ignore the dates. And there are probably a few
posts that may have been skipped - at least, the statistics indicate
that. Some days are busy and I don't post - others days, I catch up and
maybe post two blogs. So check the list and see if you missed
something. It might be exciting stuff you missed!
Okay - I came to Australia
knowing that they have a very comprehensive art education program. I
met several visual arts educators at the National Art Education
Association Convention in March 2012, and I attended two or three
sessions where they presented student work as well as an overview of the
visual art training these students receive.
Part of the normal procedure
in Australia is that 12th grade students compile a portfolio of their
artwork, which is reviewed and assessed by a committee of art
specialists. Certain works are selected to be exhibited in various
museums throughout the country. Some of the student work is used as
their portfolio for college or university applications. But part of the
body of work is shown in museums, and it is a great honor to have one's
work selected for exhibition. In fact, some work is then selected to
be exhibited in various education administration offices - the Minister
of Education, the Director of Assessment, and such. Additionally,
special awards are sometimes given in recognition of great achievement
or promise. The entire process is to encourage and promote the visual
arts in the public and private schools, as well as to encourage students
to pursue careers in the visual arts.
I went to the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) Art Show at the Adelaide College of the Arts. This is a college of Fine and Performing Arts (post-secondary,
or tertiary education - because sometimes college means high school
here). I met some 11th grade students who are hoping to attend this
school, and were visiting the SACE show as a class field trip.
I have to say I'm totally
impressed with the body of work exhibited. Many of the pieces show not
only technical skill but also emotional maturity and integration of
artistic expression in an abstract and conceptual way. The work was
incredible! Some of the pieces were what one might expect from a high
school senior. But other work - wow!
So - first I have to apologize
to the students
and their teachers - I didn't copy down names, I only
took a few photos. So I'm not giving credit to all the incredibly
talented students whose work is shared here. And I do apologize. I
wouldn't be happy if someone showed my students' work and didn't mention
Also, my apologies for the quality
of the photos - digital images never quite do justice to the artwork, colors are distorted, and it never is quite the same as seeing the art in person.
And please remember that you can click on the photo to enlarge it and see more detail, get a better idea of what the actual artwork looks like.
Also remember that these were created by high school students. Seventeen and eighteen year olds.
But I'm hoping this inspires
all my art teacher friends and my various students - because if students
can do this in Australia, well, we can do this anywhere, right?
And think about the
conceptual maturity that it takes to create some of these more abstract
pieces - this isn't easy. It takes a practiced hand, an inner vision,
and a willingness to fail to be able to create an abstraction of
Some of the pieces that moved me:
pink dress made out of bras, for breast cancer awareness. Because the
student who made it has had her life touched, affected, by breast
-The student who
painted a series of her younger sister, who is going through
chemotherapy and therefore shaved her hair. The student tried to
portray her sister's vulnerability as well as her beauty.
I think the
student portrayed those aspects of herself, as well.
-A series of
cardboard cars and trailers (caravans) from the 1950s, reminiscent of
summer vacations and travel, both in Australia, New Zealand, and the
-The technical aspects of the student who painted a polyptych portraying the various aspects of tea - tea for two, sharing a cuppa, the intricacies of tea cups and saucers, an Andy-Warhol-like exploration of teabags. Just the patience needed to create a painting of Blue Willow china is mind-boggling!
-The self-portrait that portrays all the angst of adolescence, the emotional and physical trauma of teenage years.
really exceptional sculpture comprised of circles, tied together within
a metal frame, creating a landscape that is reminiscent of Aboriginal
dot painting without being in the least bit derivative.
There was so much more to this exhibit, so much more talent than what I've shown in this little condensed blog. Jewelry, posters, altered books. Graphic design. Package design. Architectural design, from blue prints to models showing the finished structure. Sculpture. Mixed media presentations. More fashion design.
I also had a wonderful time talking to the man sitting with the show, a former ceramics teacher and arts administrator. I also chatted with a graphics design student, who is hoping to pursue further education.
I am so impressed with the quality of work produced, and by the visual arts education system in this country.
And I almost regret retiring! Not quite, but I do miss my students.