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A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words (which means less writing I have to do for the class!)

  October 24th, 2011

Working in East Hampton Studio, Jackson Pollock, 1951, An ARTstor image, copyright protected.

Like others have mentioned in the last several posts, I was thrilled and surprised with the outcome of the webquest activity. I went through all the links shared in the assignment directions and took notes whenever I found something I thought could be useful to students in my course (Writing Art Criticism). Students in my classes cover a broad range: seniors majoring in art and students from other departments that haven’t a clue; those who have a proclivity towards writing and those who (as Sara pointed out) haven’t even had the college’s basic writing course. One thing I can say though, is I how surprised I’ve been by everyone’s enthusiasm to learn about art, either to add to what they’re already familiar with or to brave what seems completely foreign to them.

Basic writing skills and art history aren’t part of the teaching goals in this course but the broad range of students required that I be ready to offer help to those who are struggling. The easiest way to do that was to begin collecting links to online sources, both about art and writing. Some are from the sites mentioned in our assignment. This assignment gave me even more sources from which to gather content materials.

So far, the most common problem with their writing is passive sentences, descriptive details, and confidence. Here are some of the links I found:

Names of colors – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_colors

Names of  emotions –  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_emotions

Descriptive Vocabulary Help – http://www.enhancemyvocabulary.com/word-pairs.html

Action Verbs (and some explain passive vs. active) – http://www.cvisual.com/film-techniques/writer-action-verb-list.asp http://www.examples-help.org.uk/parts-of-speech/action-verbs.htm

In an effort to level the playing field for students, I keep a collection of online resources in addition to course work to help those who aren’t as familiar with art as others. As things come up in a discussion or while going over their papers, I suggest they check out specific links in the folder. Non-art students are sometimes intimidated by art, so I spend the first 3 weeks doing quick short assignments for the reason (among others) that it gives me opportunities to calm their fears.  Here are some of the links I found, both from this assignment and some I already had before. If anyone is interested in a full list, let me know and I’ll send.

Note: I’m trying to embed the videos, but, in case I fail, I’m giving you the links too.

TED: I came up with some excellent treasures! I consider these exceptionally good for several reasons: it’s the artist themselves talking about their work in a relaxed friendly way, they all have a quirky story, and they only last 15 minutes each!

[ted id=1222]  http://www.ted.com/talks/kate_hartman_the_art_of_wearable_communication.html

This is also from TED. At times, when a student is from another field I send them a link to an artist who is working in that field. People still only see art in the traditional mediums (painting, sculpting, architecture…) I am very excited to find this gem tonight.

[ted id=1252]  http://www.ted.com/talks/nathalie_miebach.html

[ted id=32]  http://www.ted.com/talks/vik_muniz_makes_art_with_wire_sugar.html


These were links from surfing Merlot.org. I have access to ARTstor, but my students don’t. I was happy to find out that Valley Library has amazing art image resources for both me and students, then I found a couple more.

World Images Kiosk  http://worldart.sjsu.edu/

Web Gallery: http://www.wga.hu/index.html When you go to many of the images on this site, there is often music playing from the same time period. Besides that (as if that weren’t enough), it has the option “dual mode” for viewing two works side-by-side. This was the grandest and most useful discovery I made from this assignment!

Kahn Academy has an extensive collection of Art History videos, but the quality is amateur from the ones I saw. I could see potential for using it to create my own, or as an assignment for students. While I’m on the subject of creating my own: it was useful to see the various ways other educators are using Flickr.

Youtube Edu: I’ve searched through it before and, like before, didn’t find anything that I liked.

I’m interested in Almagest but couldn’t figure out how to get to the non-member material. Later will try some more.

I have found a lot of great material on Youtube by typing in an artist’s name or title. Here’s some I use a lot:

Ways of Seeing, John Berger, the entire documentary in  several parts: http://youtu.be/LnfB-pUm3eI (I warn students that this is an older film and Berger looks like the hippie Marxist that he still his. The content is valuable and worth helping them look past this.

Artists John Cage, Nam June Paik, and Joseph Beuys. http://youtu.be/Pbgr74yNM7M

New York art critic, Jerry Saltz (he also has a facebook page where he converses with anyone about art regularly and I share that also with students). http://youtu.be/cxmMxi-lelg

Art Fag City is an online journal http://www.artfagcity.com/ and also produces short films about artists for Youtube  http://youtu.be/lhMdl0vEczo. A student shared this with the class a couple terms ago. It was a great find! I like that the style of filming is up with the times and the artists tell their own stories, and they’re all less than 4 minutes long but packed with interesting useful information. Students are writing about contemporary artists so this is a great source for them to choose one they find interesting.

I think I inadvertently saved the best till last: the incomparable Ubu Web, created by Kenneth Goldsmith, houses the largest collection of avant garde sound, film, video, and writing on the web.

Vito Acconci, performance artist, Centers http://www.ubuweb.com/film/acconci_centers.html

Lovely film by William Kentridge blending film, performance art, visual art, and opera. http://www.ubu.com/film/kentridge_repeat.html

Ubu also has a list of unique links. This is an art site for Middle Eastern Bedoun culture. http://www.bidoun.org/

As I return to this now, I realize that the narration makes it a great discussion group item. Until now, I haven’t considered using media as prompters for discourse.  Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece http://youtu.be/Zfe2qhI5Ix4

Art21 is a series made for educational purposes, organized by themes and names,  completely accessible on Youtube. They also have teaching aids that accompany the videos. I don’t use it much because after awhile they all look generic, a bit too composed, over worked, or something along those lines. But I give the link to the students to peruse. http://youtu.be/s1bBJsOOvTI

Guerilla Girls    http://youtu.be/33DXdBHaokw

Their book mentions a lot of artists and works but for many there’s no image provided. I am putting together a folder that will have at least one work by all the artists mentioned to give them a visual of what the book is talking about.

I’ll skip telling you how much I get out of NPR, all the online museums links I use. But here’s one more just for fun that I found at “clipsforclass.com” while doing the assignment. (you have to scroll down to the M. C. Escher film. Enjoy!)  http://clipsforclass.com/sandp












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18 Responses to “A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words (which means less writing I have to do for the class!)”

  1. Beverly, I think this is what’s referred to as a mother lode. WOW! When you are fortunate to find so many resources, the challenge becomes selecting the most effective ones and avoiding overloading your students. This is where course learning outcomes can be your guide. The resources that support the outcomes best stay; others go, or are at least relegated to “optional” status.

    Comment by Shannon Riggs - October 24th, 2011 @ 10:19 am
  2. Bev, I am itching to get to some of your resources and play with them myself! The lists of colors and emotions are fascinating! They would definitely reduce the level of intimidation by the lack of words for colors and emotions. I’ll say it time and time again — those in your class are so lucky!

    Comment by Olga Rowe - October 24th, 2011 @ 4:30 pm
  3. Beverly, – WOW and thanks! I am going to gorge on all these wonderful resources. My art history background is hungry for more about art. And on a more direct level, anything about visual rhetoric is fair game for my own classes. In Tech Writing in particular, I work with page design, layout, colors, etc.

    I can recommend Webb and Albers’ article from the Journal of Technical Writing and Communication on Medieval Books of Hours as the foundation for contemporary page design. (unfortunately OSU library no longer has electronic subscription to the JTWC but we do have hard copy).

    Question – from reviewing the materials in this week on visual accessibility, what are ways to accommodate students with any visual disabilities when looking at art that has any colors?

    Thank you for sharing this!

    Comment by Sara Jameson - October 27th, 2011 @ 12:39 pm
  4. Hi, again, Beverly,
    What fun I’m having with your resources. I love the page of colors in Wikipedia. Students will be amazed at all the subtle shades they never thought of and appreciate that they are grouped in two ways – alphabetically and then by color family. That should help them describe the colors in any art they view.

    The emotions page provides some opportunity for discussion, as not everyone may agree with the emotion pairs. So that will be food for thought.

    Wow – and I had no idea that Berger had a documentary. We can use this in writing classes too.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by sara jameson - October 27th, 2011 @ 7:08 pm
  5. Hi
    I apologize for being late in my replies to all of your comments but, as Shannon knows, I’ve been without a computer for most of last week. Getting caught up now.

    Shannon: Yes, I continue to appreciate the organizing process that the OSU training staff and this course take me through. Learning Outcomes is an important step in the process. Also, the fact that there’s a truckload of people on the other side of this screen to help me, real voices to discuss the choices in front of me, make this experience of designing courses less stressful. Thank you!

    Comment by Beverly Nelson - October 31st, 2011 @ 6:24 am
  6. Dear Olga, Thank you again for the interest and I’m so pleased that you find the links interesting! Let me know how you use them in your courses.

    You know, since we met online here, I’ve been thinking about what you teach and artists that engage with social issues. Not sure if you know of the art critic/theorist Lucy Lippard, or the artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles (I love her work!), but are just a couple I know of who have made a definite impact on social issues in our world.

    PSU ART DEPT has regular Saturday lectures, and recently had Lippard via live webcast. (when you or your students are in the area).

    You might be interested in Alice Aycock’s presentation/lecture, a renowned sculptor who began in the 70’s making large architectural conceptual sculptural pieces…She’ll be talking about her work at LaSells Stewart Center at OSU, November 10, 7pm. http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ncs/lifeatosu/2011/public-sculptor-to-speak-at-osu/


    Comment by Beverly Nelson - October 31st, 2011 @ 6:40 am
  7. Again, sorry I’m so late to reply to these comments.
    Sara, I’m happy that you found the links useful. A discussion on the emotion pairs would be fantastic! I didn’t think of that.

    I love Berger. It took me awhile to open up to his style of writing about art. His ideas and writing are more creative than what students expect, and that’s why I used him.

    Thank you for your comments!

    Comment by Beverly Nelson - October 31st, 2011 @ 6:46 am
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