Friday, August 16, 2013

seeing spots....


Something that I have come across being an art teacher is the notion that everyone can do everything, with the notion that “My child could do that”.  This mostly relates to contemporary art and the idea that contemporary artists create such simple works that young children are capable and able to do the same.

 Take artist Damien Hirst, for example.  He is one of my contemporary favorites (and contemporary meaning that he still makes art and is alive) that draws me in with his paintings.  His “spot paintings” have been in galleries across the world and draw you in to their mesmerizing precision and color.

But they are only dots.

True, but what kind of dots.

This is where a little research about the artist and the artist’s purpose plays a big role in understanding the meaning of a work, and possibly appreciating it a little more.

Damien Hirst, Albumin, Human, Glycated,1992, household paint and polymer on canvas, 7′ x 9’8″

Damien Hirst fills galleries with his whimsical ‘spot paintings’ and to the normal eye they are fun dot paintings.  Investigating the artist and his work a little more you find a series of paintings called The Pharmaceutical Paintings” in which Hirst challenges perspectives of art, science and popular culture.  These perfectly painted, meticulously gridded, color coded ‘spots’ are used as a form of communicating a message, an idea, or in this case, controlled substances.   This not only redefines a viewers' perspective but also provides an interactive element that engages a viewer beyond just the sense of sight.

Amidst the colorful aspect of these paintings and what looks like a random effort to create these works, lies structure, order and something not so random.  Perhaps we should all take another look before we conclude a child can “make that”.

". . . In the spot paintings the grid-like structure creates the beginning of the system. On each painting no two colours are the same. This ends the system; it’s a simple system. No matter how I feel as an artist or painter, the paintings end up looking happy. I can still make all the emotional decisions about colour that I need to as an artist, but in the end they are lost. The end of painting." Hirst  

6th grade art unit....

M&M's for color study :-)
As an art teacher, my mind gravitates towards ideas and projects that will hook my students into learning.  Specifically for my 6th grade students, artists and art works that excite their senses have demonstrated to be very effective.  Much like Hirst's play and  integration of art, science and pop culture, my students can explore color theory, visual communication and identity within the structure of "spot paintings".  Now, I am not going to have my students study any sort of controlled substances, but I am will use the idea of encouraging viewer interaction with a painting by creating whimsical, colorful spot paintings with encrypted messages about their life, culture or society.
What a wonderful juxtaposition....


Check back to see how my students handled all the spots ;-)
xoxo, SMocK you.