“The ARTS provide the kind of ideal that I believe American education needs now more than ever. I say now more than ever because our lives increasingly require the ability to deal with conflicting messages, to make judgments in the absence of rule, to cope with ambiguity, and to frame imaginative solutions to problems we face.” ~ Elliot Eisner, Stanford University
In a remote village in the south of France, Savannah College of Art and Design’s students are both refining their Art skills and developing new perspectives on the world. Coupling Art instruction with visits to historic sites, SCAD kids are learning to interweave history and Art and becoming comfortable integrating one Art form with another. Although there are specific assignments for each major area of study, some content areas have been combined so that students in architecture are working with design majors. Each applies his or her area of expertise, but like in the real world, their common ground is the intersection between two fields. “Most nights I’ve been up to two or three in the morning working on my assignments. I don’t think I have ever worked so hard in my life,” a painting major told me. Before enrolling in SCAD, she’d considered twenty possible Art schools.
After eight weeks of exploring architecture, painting, printmaking, or fashion design, these young artists opened the gates to the public for a formal exhibition of their work. Beyond their impassioned pursuit of their dreams was their ability to speak candidly about how each piece came to be.
Students kept journals and portfolios to house their work. They captured their experiences in their sketches, annotations, and memorabilia, all documented so they can look to what they’ve learned in France to inform their future endeavors.
Something remarkable had happened during their eight weeks of study in and beyond Lacoste. Art had been the vehicle though which they learned to look and think deeply – at the world around them and into themselves. When Elliot Eisner speaks about learning he asserts, ” I am talking about a culture of schooling in which more importance is placed on exploration than on discovery, more value is assigned to surprise than to control, more attention is devoted to what is distinctive than to what is standard, more interest is related to what is metaphorical than to what is literal. It is an educational culture that has a greater focus on becoming than on being, places more value on the imaginative than on the factual, assigns greater priority to valuing than to measuring, and regards the quality of the journey as more educationally significant than the speed at which the destination is reached.”
Bravo to the students, their teachers, and to SCAD for empowering young people to think like artists whether they ultimately choose to become one or not.