My Sad Dresser by Mark Davis (top)
My Angry Dresser by Barry Brown (below)
Many art teachers complain that students only value realistic drawing and painting. Sometimes, even when a student creates a wonderful painting in an expressionist style, the student does not value the work. This is a curriculum problem that can be addressed by introducing students to work in expressionist styles that the students are likely to find interesting and even exciting* and by creating studio exercises and projects that utilize actual expressionist methodologies.
To teach expressionist making well, begin by purging the word symbolism from your unit plan. A common exercise that is antithetical to actual expressionist practice is to tell kids to make a variety of “expressive lines” that symbolize anger, sadness, calm, etc. This mis-teaches the tradition of expressionism because while expressionist artists do work out of their emotions and bodily energy, they don’t make simplistic matches between form and meaning. The Expressive Furniture project takes a more authentic approach to teaching expressionism because it begins with students recalling and re-experiencing a strong emotion (often one which is not easily identified and named) and they then draw while remaining in that emotional state of mind. Students are encouraged to allow their emotions to distort the forms that they are drawing in response to the intensities felt in the body.
My _________ (Object) projects by students of the
Spiral Workshop 2008 Becoming: Drawing & Collage group.