CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio
CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Even bananas reflect about their work

Students pausing in the making to reflect and share about their work
Every two weeks, rain or shine, banana or grapefruit, we pause in the making to reflect and share artwork. It is important for artists to learn to talk about their work and the work of others with respect and insight, so we practice. 

If an artwork is finished, students have the option of displaying their work, storing it in their portfolio, or taking it home (3D work goes home if not displayed). Displayed work is always accompanied by an artist's statement. 

Work-in-progress is acknowledged as a normal state of affairs. In our program, the student decides when a piece is finished - or if a piece gets finished. Not all work is brought to a finished state, although there is a persistent idea among adults that students need to learn to finish what they start.
Objects painted silver but then abandoned
There are many reasons why artwork does not always reach a finished state. I feel it is up to the artist to make this determination. 

"I'm done!" declared an 8th grade needle-felter.."No wait! it needs feet!"
 When I speak at Art Educator conferences around the country, one of my favorite questions to ask an audience of art teachers is "How many of you have work at home that is unfinished?" Most hands go up. Next I ask "When are you going to finish that anyway?" Sometimes I add "It's due Friday." They get the point. Not all work gets finished. That's an authentic artistic behavior.


Last spring three tall boxes arrived containing our new art stools. In true art-teacher-form, I prized the boxes as much as the stools, and stored them in the art closet all summer, waiting for kids to return to make good use of them.

 I offered these treasures to any artist or collaborative team who could provide a plan worthy of the box. 


A group of three 8th graders design the first (Outer space box).
8th Graders researching images for "Outer space Box"


Three 5th graders designed the next (Aquarium box) and a solo 6th grader designed the last (Robot box).
5th graders prepare their box with gesso

"L" (grade 5) created the sketch for her team's box painting, which wasn't complete until four cats were created to look over the top of the aquarium.

The 3-D paintings adorned the school atrium for a few weeks becoming an interactive exhibit for students to arrange and rearrange.