When designing units to provoke students' engagement, I take the time to consider their current interests and search for topics that would help me explore the concepts among which I want them to find relationships.
In a unit in which the intention was for them to learn shading techniques, they investigated, mainly, at the work of street artist Banksy. Banksy is well known for his politically charged messages and paying careful attention to where he places his images. They also looked at examples of Optical Illusion Art that provoked these emerging artists to add a playful component to their intention of their art.
After analysing several art pieces by Banksy and other street artists, the students deepened their understanding of the role of the environmental context that can host a piece of art. Shading became an instrumental technique as students scouted for the site specific component of their drawing. I appreciated observing how students came to understand how the optical illusion they had created also tricked viewers in a playful manner. Examples such as a realistic rendering of a hole on the ground, the label of a racing horse, or a hand dropping a banana peel demonstrate the extent to which students could apply their conceptual understandings to the work they produced.
While my main purpose of having them explore shading was fulfilled, their creatively and their understanding of the school space were a thrill to observe. The architecture, the existing elements of the school building and the interior design can serve as a canvas if we let them. The placement of drawings in the “right” environment, enhances its meaning and allows artists and viewers to experience "places" (site) and space as elements they can incorporate in their language when communicating a message.
April 27, 2023