My first subway platform, NY 2012
For this quarterly article we were asked to write about how we maintain our creativity.
When I was in my late teens, I began a practice of occasional interruption that continues to be an important part of my creative process. I started taking time to wander when I needed it. I would get in my car and drive around (at that time, usually downtown St. Paul or Minneapolis), wandering into libraries, bookstores, art museums, coffee houses, even college campuses and airports. I always brought my sketchbook and would fill pages during those outings with lists, poems, rants, idea webs, sketches, and other random fragments from the day.
There is something about wandering. It’s transcendent. It allows for discovery, chance, connectivity, and immersion. It’s more than simply a change of scenery or a break from the mundane, it’s an opportunity to be truly receptive to unanswered questions. In “A Field Guide to Getting Lost,” Rebecca Solnit wrote, “To lose yourself: a voluptuous surrender, lost in your arms, lost to the world, utterly immersed in what is present so that its surroundings fade away. In Benjamin’s terms, to be lost is to be fully present, and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty and mystery.”
I wander in texts, dialogues, terrains, and with others. What started as an isolated practice has grown into the fruition of curiosities, discourses, and collaborations; all of which inform my work and renew my curiosities for the unknown.
In 2010, one of my digital art students, Dalton Mills, won a national NASA competition for his 3-D animated visualization of what life on the moon would be like. I had only been teaching for a few years and had little experience writing press releases. Fortunately, our district had a resource person who handles press releases so I was able to work with her, Dalton, and our local newspaper to get the word out about his achievement. Afterward, we were invited to attend a local school board meeting to share Dalton’s work and achievement, as well as a few words about the importance of visualization in creating new dialogues toward progress and invention (much the way that Dalton’s animation opened up new understandings about engineering possibilities and sustainability issues for life in space).
It was an impactful moment, not only for Dalton, but for the art departments in our district. Dalton was utilizing technology to visualize concepts related to a myriad of aerospace, architectural, and engineering concerns. Of course, visualizing them isn’t the same as actually creating them but it is the foundational first step forward in actualizing an idea.
We all know how art education impacts students learning and interactivity. We know how important it is as its own discipline and as compliment to the core subjects. We need to continually ask ourselves, “do others know how impactful this is?” It’s our duty to ‘get the word out’ about the importance of art processes and the achievements of our students in these areas. If we don’t advocate to get the word out, no one will. Get into the practice!
-written by Lisa Ulik, WAEA Advocacy Representative, for the fall Art-etimes
Click here to access simple tips on how to write a press release or go to - http://www.wiarted.org/advocacy.html
Have something to share (news stories, achievements)? Why not share it on the WAEA advocacy blog! Email your news to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Imagine tools so expansive in their capabilities that your students are literally finding ways to teach themselves, both in and out of the classroom. Tools so flexible they can expand definitions, promote dialogues, foster exchanges, and build new contexts. Dare we dream these tools will also promote analytical thinking through a type of dialectical learning that occurs when viewers become producers?
Technology does seem to be the tool of all tools as far as learning is concerned. However, it may be a stretch to say that technology by itself is a stand-alone, miracle tool that will solve all the world’s problems. Instead, it’s what we do with technology and how we use it in our lives and in our interactivity that really makes it a useful and expansive collection of tools. Perhaps that is why I revere it and the type of modalities it promotes in teaching and learning.
The modality principle is a research-based understanding that information is in fact better remembered when accompanied by visual imagery. In a study based on Paivio’s proposal of dual-coding and memory, Richard Mayer and his team were able to illustrate the modality principle as a significant increase in memory transfer through multimedia use in learning. Of course, multimedia learning means more than simply including images, audio, animation, and text into a presentation in our attempts to relay information into passive but receptive learners, as in the case of the split attention effect when learners’ only engagement is to decide which information is the least redundant. It’s when learners are challenged to make sense of what they are viewing that higher order processes of synthesis and analysis come into play in the form of creation and construction of both meaning and content.
One of my favorite ways to promote new media modality in the classroom is to informally brainstorm with my students about the purpose of a particular technology tool, such as youtube. I ask my students, “what does youtube do?” “How does it operate?” “How is it different than television?” Initially, they are taken aback, but after a few prodding questions they begin to form conclusions and answer, “communication,” “documentary,” “entertainment,” “exposure,” “individuality,” etc. Once we all have a collective understanding about what youtube does and how it’s used we can begin to enter into explorations and conversations about the various types of content produced and applied online and how we can work through our own processes to create particular types of purposeful content to be shared.
Other projects that promote multimedia modalities are visualization projects and research-based redesign projects. What’s great about these types of projects is they can be adapted k-12, depending on the level of reference to research. Furthermore, the redesign work doesn’t have to be done on the computer, but certainly can if computer usage skills are part of the project goals. An example of this would be to have your students research packaging design along with color theory and the idea of target markets. Then have your students redesign a package of one of their favorite products.
-written by Lisa Ulik, WAEA Advocacy Representative, for the winter Art-etimes
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