Tragic and Wonderful ART CONTESTS
Art contests and awards have good and bad attributes and a terrible reputation. Many students have been disappointed and discouraged not to get an award for something they had been very proud of. Rejection is painful, resulting in despair and even anger while those who get an award feel wonderful. It can energize and motivate more work. Art teachers can find ways to use the positive attributes and while avoiding the negative attributes of awards.
Who Should Get the Awards Give many different awards to fit the artworks for which they are given. Give every student the same number and quality of awards as every other student.
This may not be quite as euphoric for the winners, but it avoids the despair, anger, and tragedy of turning students away from all the benefits of art education. I know life does not treat us all equal, and I know that some have worked harder than others. I am not sure what is fair, but I would rather give everybody an award in art than risk loosing a student's mind because they learned to hate art and acquired learned helplessness in art and all the other thinking skills that they loose if they do not participate.
Smart Awards Inform and Motivate
The awards themselves provide education for both the artists and the viewers. They can be small enough to be displayed with the names and titles. Perhaps a small gold or blue dot sticker is added to each one to call attention to the award.The awards are labeled to identify something significant about art that is expressed by each work in the exhibit. Ask for class help identify purposes of art, goals of learning in art, expressive qualities, special effects like depth and motion, innovative uses of materials, creative juxtapositions, and ways of learning in art. Assign one Smart Award to each work with the special qualities written in the award form. Post a master list of the all the Smart Award qualities and attributes found in the whole exhibition together with short definitions in your classroom and at various places in the exhibit.
Who Names Smart Awards?
What if students themselves with the help of their peers assume the task of selecting which qualities and artistic attributes that should be awarded to their own work in the exhibition? The teacher may reserve the right to add additional categories.
Who Gives Smart Awards?
What if the class were to form teams to generate award categories then decide which awards were given to which works until every artwork gets an award that identifies a positive characteristic embodied in each artwork? What if every award had to be awarded to at least one artwork? Consider the art learning that would occur. The teacher may reserve the right to make sure the award attributes listed seem reasonable for each work.
Starter List of Smart Awards
Each art teacher will want to make a lists that relates to their own teaching. Make your own list based on the good things you see happening in your classes.
Your students will learn more about art if they are involved in creating these lists early in the course and periodically during the course and during each project or assignment. If you would like to practice being creative and teaching creativity, ask yourself and your students to create these awards. Stop reading now.
This list has 60 ideas that may have some ideas to get started.
Purposes of Art in Society and Attributes of Art
- SmartAward for art that is very creative and innovative
- SmartAward for art that helps us know the artist better
- SmartAward for art that really uses the materials expressively
- SmartAward for appropriate use of the materials
- SmartAward for unusual and innovative use of the materials
- SmartAward for art that shows a lot of depth
- SmartAward for art that looks very flat and eliminates depth
- SmartAward for art that shows lots of motion without actually moving
- SmartAward for art that is very still and stable
- SmartAward for sculpture that is unified no matter which way you look at it
- SmartAward for art that helps us Celebrate something
- SmartAward for art that helps us Memorialize, Praise, Honor, or Remember a person or special event
- SmartAward for art that helps us Identify a thing or group
- SmartAward for art that tells a story or myth
- SmartAward for art that tries to convince and persuade us about something
- SmartAward for art that questions something that needs to be questioned (pollution, hatred, bullies).
- Award for art that helps us experience a Feeling (love, anger, tenderness, fear, etc.)
- SmartAward for art that helps us value Humor (it makes us smile more)
- SmartAward for art that represents features of youth culture
- SmartAward for art that helps us gain Tolerance Toward Others and Other Ideas
- SmartAward for art that helps us with our Sadness and Times of Grieving
- SmartAward for art that shows us dreams and fantasies
- SmartAward for art that art that serves utilitarian purposes
- SmartAward for art that has healing qualities for the person who made it or the person who sees it (helps us understand ourselves or allows us to express something very important that has happed to us)
- SmartAward for art that helps use figure out how to make something else or how something should look
- SmartAward for art that is used as a substitute for something else
- SmartAward for art that could be used for part of a ritual or ceremony
- SmartAward for art that helps us appreciate nature
- SmartAward for art that records how something, someplace, an animal, or somebody looks
- SmartAward for art that helps us understand our emotions and ourselves
- SmartAward for art that inspires school spirit, national spirit, or loyalty to some other group
- SmartAward for art that decorates or enriches things around us
- SmartAward for art that is intended to work mainly with the formal elements of line, color, shape, texture, form, and/or other visual elements and how they can be arranged
THE FOLLOWING were added as a general list of awards. They were generated by students in my Teaching Visual Art class, January 27, 2008. Contributors: Jason Brewer, Laura Harnish, Breanna Lange, and Carly Martin.
- Smart Award for being very cartoon-like
- Smart Award for having a rough style
- Smart Award for showing strong emotion
- Smart Award for being very dramatic
- Smart Award for showing lots of movement
- Smart Award for being comical
- Smart Award for being believable
- Smart Award for being inventive
- Smart Award for being expressive
- Smart Award for great use of the material
- Smart Award for being thought provoking
- Smart Award for being economical
- Smart Award for being poetic
- Smart Award for being narrative
- Smart Award for being believable
- Smart Award for being loaded
- Smart Award for being colorful
- Smart Award for use of texture
- Smart Award for being frightening
- Smart Award for being subtle
- Smart Award for being bold
- Smart Award for being abstract
- Smart Award for being representational
- Smart Award for being organic looking
- Smart Award for being balanced
- Smart Award for use of space
- Smart Award for other (write in specific quality)
Bibliography and Sources used:1Herberholz, Donald, and Herberholz, Barbara. Artwork for Elementary Teachers, Developing Artistic and Perceptual Awareness 7th ed., 1994, WCB Brown & Benchmark, publishers, pages 3 & 4.
This book includes a list of 19 Purposes of Artworks on pages 3 and 4. Many of the items in the above list come from these 19 purposes.
No good place for an exhibition? See How to Install an Exhibit when there is not good place to put it.
more links_of interest to art teachers, administrators, and parents
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It takes extra work to make a
nice looking school display of student
artwork. So, why should we do it?
1. Children gain self esteem by seeing their work seen by others. Include an artwork from every child.
2. Art is incomplete without an audience.
3. Children work harder on their artwork if they know it will be seen by all.
4. Even as mature adults, we are very discouraged when we fail to get hoped for awards, or acknowledgement for hard work. Many students are devastated when they do not get an award. They loose their joy of creative work. Creativity dries up. Hostility toward school becomes a problem.
5. The display is a great place to post information about the work and the assignment goals. This is good review and it helps parents and other teachers learn about
the ways artistic thinking is learned.
6. Many parents take pride in seeing the work of their children and appreciate even small amounts of information that helps them understand the work.
7. If a student makes a comment about what she or he learned while creating an artwork, ask if it okay to post the comment with the work.
EVEN BETTER: Routinely ask, What things did you learn while working on this?
BETTER YET! Students write artists statements for every work that is selected for an exhibition. Make it easy. Give them a list of questions that artists think about when they write statements about their work.
8. With Smart Awards and Artist Statements, art teachers gain goodwill and sometimes it becomes easier to keep their jobs and get
funds and donations for supplies.
9. These awards statements add intellectual value and information to the exhibition. Students become better writers and better artists.
10. Every child needs to be awarded feedback. If not every child's work gets an award, no awards should be given.
All of this is lots of work.
I think it is good to make it part of the regular class work. This is an appropriate part of any art curriculum.
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Using Art Awards
as Exhibit Labels
A MASK might also be:
Art to show Identity,
Art to show Feeling,
Art to tells a Story,
Art that is Creative,
Art to show Humor,
Art to show Sadness,
Art to show a Dream,
or one of many other reasons to make and wear a mask.
The particular name of the award depends on how a particular student had decided to create her/his mask and how the mask turned out.
When art student teams work at the process of deciding on the awards for each other (their peers), they are learning that art has many roles to play in our lives.
Readers who find this page helpful,
may also wish to visit these pages.
Exhibit Design explains ways to think about student artwork exhibits, what to add to the exhibition, and who should do the work of installing such an exhibit.
How to install a student show with ordinary masking tape. http://www.goshen.edu/~marvinpb/arted/tape.html
As a youth, Adolph Hitler was rejected from art school.
The young Adolf, . . . fashioned himself as a great artist and perhaps purposely disgraced himself in his school leaving examinations. After his father's death he attended a private art school in Munich, but failed twice to pass into the Vienna Academy. Advised to try architecture, he was debarred for lack of a school leaving certificate. His fanatical hatred of all intellectuals and his later sneers at "gentlemen with diplomas" no doubt originated at this early period of his life.
Quoted from: The History Guide
We cannot say that Hitler should have been admitted to the Vienna Academy instead of another more capable student. However, it is interesting to speculate about the course of history, had he been treated with more care and respect in his encounters with rejection.
What can we assume about the philosophy of an art education if it does not instill empathy and respect for others? In our own practices, how can we conduct our class critiques in ways that are helpful without instilling hate of authority? Simply avoiding critique can bypass over fifty percent of the art learning. It can be done well.
How does what we do in selection of artwork for exhibition effect a student's feeling toward themselves and toward authority figures? -mb
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