DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Form+Theme+Context (FTC)™

A Balanced Approach to Decoding and Encoding Art

and Other Phenomena for Deeper Meaning




     Art teachers play a vital role in fostering visual literacy in all citizens--from cradle-to-grave.  Today’s learners require 21st century skills that enable them to encode visual concepts through the transformative process of creative expression as well as decode meaning through the informative process of critical response of society’s images, ideas, and media of the past as well as that which permeates our increasingly complex visual world. 


      As shown above, a balanced approach to exploring the form + theme + context of an artwork helps individuals create as well as understand complex layers of meaning in visual language while developing higher-order thinking skills.  As we explore form, or how the work “is,we discern the artist’s many structural decisions embedded in the creative process that leads to a final product.   As we examine theme, or what the work is about, we examine what the artist expresses through a selected overarching concept or “Big Idea” that reveals the artist’s expressive viewpoint connecting art to life.  As we investigate context(s), or when, where, by/for whom and why the art was created (and valued), we comprehend the authentic nature of the artwork by probing the conditions for and under which the art was created and valued, considering the work under present conditions from our perspective in contemporary, as well as those of foreign and older cultures.


FTC Articles: Form+Theme+Context

NAEA Advocacy White Papers (Summer 2012)

III. What Excellent Visual Arts Education Looks Like: Balanced, Interdisciplinary, and Meaningful http://www.arteducators.org/advocacy/NAEA_WhitePapers_3.pdf


Seeing a Bigger Picture: The Visual Arts, Principal Leadership, March 2011 issue: "Seeing the Future"

ARTICLE:  SeeingABiggerPicturePrincipalLeadershipMarch2011.pdf

DISCUSSION GUIDE: pldiscuss_web_vers_mar11.pdf 

TABLE OF CONTENTS: ContentsPrincipalLeadershipMarch2011.pdf


Using Form+Theme+Context (FTC) for Rebalancing 21st-Century Art Education Studies in Art Education, Spring 2009


Form+Theme+Context: Balancing Considerations for Meaningful Art Learning Art Education, January 2006


FTC Palettes: Form+Theme+Context Graphic Organizers Designed To Promote Interdisciplinary Exploration and Deeper Learner Engagement


for decoding and encoding art  FTCPaletteforArt2011Sandell_TextBox.pdf
 for decoding and encoding art lessons  FTC PaletteArtLesson2010_Textbox.pdf

 for decoding a museum FTCPaletteMuseum2015.pdf


For more information on FTC, click here


DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.