Flow conducted a three-day art enquiry module with the students of classes 6, 7 and 8 of GEAR Innovative International School, Bangalore. The module was pegged around a visit to Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, a museum of Indian art, that houses works of European traveling artists, Early Modernists Painters, Modern and Progressive School Painters as well as multiple galleries on Indigenous art.
The module was designed as a cycle of experience in which the participants were required to:
-Find their own perspective on art and then question them
-Give shape to an idea and then break the shape
-Evaluate the complexities involved in the making of art but not get encumbered
-Experience a range of work with a curious mindset
-Finally, reflect to reaffirm, transform or leave their views to marinate in the sauce of new ideas
-And, not to forget, make their own art
On Day 1, we led an enquiry into the notion of art in which students displayed a visible discomfort with a few ideas such as, looking at art as a discrete discipline with its own language and rules that can be studied, or the notion of rigour and virtuosity that separates the genius artist from a mediocre one. The concept of genius was taken to the doorstep of science. Participants found themselves wondering why the idea of a genius scientist is easier to accept while a genius artist remains a suspect. Are qualities such as hard work and rare ingenuity visible only in the field of scientific thinking? Is the idea of immersing oneself in the abstraction of science seem like a reasonable pursuit of an intelligent mind whereas immersing in the abstraction of art an unreasonable pursuit? Our participants were left mulling over these. Some offered that art should be integrated into life for meaningful relaxation, therapy and fun and should not be taken too seriously, others tentatively agreed that it is possible to dedicate one’s life to art. One student seemed worried about the value of artistic success as opposed to a scientific one and what were the parameters of artistic success? There were many such questions that springboarded debates and discussions, that we were running out of time to explore further. But as a reader who is also an educator, you might ask us what did our process do we these questions. Did we leave them to struggle? No and Yes. We neither offered any affirmations nor proffered easy denials, the process trains them in building their own perspective by taking thoughts through a thick undergrowth of questioning, analysis, debates and expansive leaps of imagination.
Day 2 was about jumping right into the world of art and immersing oneself in a space that celebrates it, that’s where our museum came in. Unlike curated walks, where demonstration, explanation and meaning-making gets a priority, our process required them to look hard for the matter on which to base their judgements, it required them to compete with the process of making of art on the wall by trying a few strategies of art thinking. We believed our participants, young and curious, will if gently led, switch between being listeners, artists, detectives and contemplative sculptures. And, they did too. With verve!
Day 3 was possibly their favourite. After two days of immersion in art, it was time for them to share their learning in words, in thoughts and in images. Image-making, it seems, had its own challenges with some opting to draw sketches they had practised and some taking the leap towards a new form they had explored. A child painted her canvass green and left it at that, another made a wall graffiti, yet another, played with colours of the rainbow and there are so many examples that I’d rather not make this reading piece unwieldy.
If you found our piece of some use, share your take away. If you have insights, experiences and thoughts on art thinking, cultural learning and museum learning for us, our readers and stakeholders, share them here, please. And, if you find anything that bothers you about the piece, don’t keep it in.