Not your grandmother’s student art show?

Discussion in 'Art Teachers' started by Stuart R, Mar 3, 2018.

  1. Stuart R

    Stuart R New Member

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    Mar 3, 2018

    Hello all –

    I’m actually a Fine & Performing Arts chair at a K-12 school that has its annual studio arts exhibition coming up in mid-May. My background is in music and theater, which tends to make me see events of any kind as performances. I’ll be meeting with our art teachers in a week or two to brainstorm ideas for our show, but thought I’d come here first to see what wonderful, creative ideas experienced art teachers enjoy sharing.

    First, the basics: the main show will be in a (wait for it…) cafeteria, though it is a cafeteria with a nice stage at one end, theatrical lighting, and a tall vaulted ceiling with exposed wooden beams. We’ve got 20-25 rolling walls, each 4 to 8 feet wide and 8 feet tall. These are painted black, but the surface is so hard that you can’t stick a pushpin into it, so I’m thinking of making “skins” for them using foam insulation panels and black fabric so they’ll be friendlier to work with.

    I expect that we will be hanging a lot of student artwork on these rolling walls, and setting a lot of it on tables – some with mini-easels, some with zig-zagging, panels, and some with levels made from boxes covered with tablecloths. That’s all good.

    Where I want to get creative is in considering the attendee’s overall experience. The could walk into a cafeteria, and view a lot of tables and displays of lower school art in one area, middle school art in another, and high school art in another. Very traditional and predictable, and the kind of thing that makes my brain, at least, shut off after a few minutes of sameness.

    I am wondering how we can make the art show more of an engaging experience. Here are some of the ideas and questions that have randomly popped into my head so far:
    • Is there a way to make this a journey or an adventure for those who attend?
    • Can we somehow organize the artwork so that there are connecting threads, or a story?
    • Since we have rolling walls, would it be worthy trying to set the room up like a museum, or even like and IKEA store, where there is a path that leads you from one “room” to another?
    • Must each teacher’s work, and each grade level’s work, be displayed in its own discrete group?
    • Could we identify themes, or some other means of tying disparate projects together, across the normal boundaries?
    • How could we make the show interactive? What about clipboards with handouts that ask attendees (esp. students) to respond to the artwork? In this section, which piece speaks to you, and why? Or even a scavenger hunt – find the blue hippopotamus . What is she doing? Or we could try to create specific “assignments” (or questions) related to each academic area. Geometry classes could come and relate to the artwork from a geometric perspective, or social studies from a historical perspective, or English classes (pick a work and respond to it with a Haiku).
    • I also like the idea of having attendees contribute toward some grand, communal artwork. What if there is an area where attendees can sit down and create a (fill in the blank) and add it to the big (fill in the blank)?
    • Or maybe each attendee could sit down and color in his/her own circle of paper, which has the words “ArtsFest 2018” (or something) on it, and has that circle made into a button s/he can wear the rest of the day? Or decorate your own “quilt square” or popsicle stick, which is added to the larger group?
    • What about an online component for those who can’t attend – a curated “best” of scrapbook?
    • Could there be community or “celebrity” judges who assign ribbons? Or art teachers could select a dozen finalists and attendees could vote on which piece the school should display in a place of honor until next year’s show, or even buy for its permanent collection?
    • I’m also wondering about the space. What could we do that would make the space itself feel creative and artistic? With all those beams overhead, maybe some fabric art, where hundreds of feet of white rope are stretched all over the room, with colorful cloth attached/stretched/draped in various ways? Or an installation of some kind – a giant paint brush, or paint buckets hanging from above all over the room, spilling fabric “paint” to the floor? Is there anything we can do with lighting? What about the entrance - any special treatment to set the scene/mood?
    • What about incorporating the other arts? Should we have live performers providing unobtrusive background music? Or kids or other volunteers serving as docents?
    • Anything else we could do to entice parents to attend, entice faculty/staff to attend, entice students to attend? [It'll be open all day on 5/15, and while we could add an evening reception or similar, attendance has been terrible in the past.]
    • What should we CALL this thing?
    Of course, I intend to listen to my art teachers. This is their show, and if they feel that what I’m suggesting detracts from the audience’s direct engagement with the art, we can tone it down. I just want it to be an enjoyable, engaging, and memorable experience for everyone involved.

    What are your thoughts, ideas, and responses to my thoughts and ideas? Your feedback is really valuable to me!

    Many thanks –
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2018
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  3. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Mar 4, 2018

    Art should be its own centerpiece. Don't distract from that too much. It's generally not an audience participation arena, either.

    Make the backdrops and rolling walls enhance the artwork, not compete with it. If you choose to group the work, go by ART themes (time periods, media, subjects.)
     
  4. Stuart R

    Stuart R New Member

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    Mar 5, 2018

    Thank you for your feedback. I am indeed mindful of keeping the art as the centerpiece. I am also responding to the feedback we've received about this event over the last couple of years, which has been described as boring, confusing, overwhelming, not very creative, and not very special, and whose attendance has declined each year. This has disheartened both the art teachers and the art students. I certainly would not implement anything near *all* the ideas I included in my post or that I hope to receive from others; I just want to add enough to make it feel more like An Event that is worth exploring.
     
  5. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Mar 5, 2018

    Call it Not Your Grandmother's Art Show. Keep it simple, invite the families, serve ice cream.
     
  6. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Mar 5, 2018

    In view of the poor reviews from past events, you may want to consider getting specific input from former attendees. You may even want to form a planning committee consisting of some of your most outspoken critics, selected students and other members from your community. I'm sure the curator from your local art museum, proprietors of art galleries and art supply stores would be willing to get involved. Sometimes just meeting and planning with your own staff for such an event can be somewhat myopic - open it up!
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2018
  7. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Mar 5, 2018

    There are some pretty radical grannies in my community -- I would think of another name that doesn't equal older = boring.
     
  8. Guitart

    Guitart Companion

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    Mar 19, 2018

    Not Your Average Art Show
    A Series of Creative Events
    Lets Make Art Great Again
     
  9. RussianBlueMommy

    RussianBlueMommy Comrade

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    Apr 3, 2018

    Ugh. Trump reference :(

    I like the collaborative idea. I have seen this done with white handkerchiefs that each person gets to decorate and are later made into a quilt.
     

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