Welcome to the Disciplinary Literacy in Art & Design site.
You will find resources to better engage students in creativity, communication, and critical thinking, while remaining true to the rigors of the visual arts. Art is a visual representation of ideas. Our understanding of the elements that make up a piece of artwork offers the learner a deeper understanding of the components of the work, as well as an idea of the message the artist may have been communicating to the viewer. Art allows people across countries, cultures, and time to engage within the expressive principles of art and design. Through artistic ideas, learners can both read, write, listen, think critically, and communicate ideas.
Disciplinary Literacy - Wisconsin Definition
"Disciplinary literacy is defined as the confluence of content knowledge, experiences, and skills merged with the ability to read, write, listen, speak, think critically and perform in a way that is meaningful within the context of a given field."
For visual arts this definition supports the continual building of skills, knowledge, and techniques while continuing to focus on the art form's elements. Art and Design instruction offers students the opportunity to explore, create, and respond through a variety of multi-sensory modes.
* developing art and design vocabulary;
* deciphering the graphic representation of ideas; and
* communicate those ideas through critique and analysis of artwork genres, styles, media use, and artist intent. For art and design instructional examples and resources, visit the Fine Arts Pedagogy site.
Vocabulary of Art and Design Principles
Most visual art is deployed as a form of communication—artists using a chosen media to convey specific concepts. Artists use medium-specific language; a photographer might discuss aperture or shutter speed, while a painter may use words such as tint or glaze. Artists, educators, critics, and historians have different ways of speaking about art, using terminology specific to medium. The basic elements of art and design are:
Project Articulate- showcases the elements with visuals for class use.
A meaningful engagement with art-making or viewing requires that the participants have an understanding of the fundamentals of art and design principles. Because art-work is truly a text itself, background information and a viewers understanding of art principles is needed to be an informed participant. Just as a student in an English class is taught to search for an author's biases in an essay, the art student will also benefit from an investigation of an author's intent and background to better distinguish the network's meaning.
Artists regularly engage in critique. This may take many forms - critiquing their own work or the work of others. An example to consider in the classroom - have the student artist exhibit their work to the class in order to receive feedback and criticism. This allows the artist to describe ideas and processes about the creation of the piece. The viewers have an opportunity to share their thoughts. Both participants should be encouraged to utilize the terminology of the art-form appropriate for their level of expertise.
Besides discussions in art, learners could support their skill and knowledge of art development through the use of art history texts, magazine articles, journals, art-websites, artist statements, and newspaper reviews.
8 Steps to Building Art Knowledge through Literacy (Template)
For more examples of application in art and design education, visit:
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