Yield to Collective Action!!!

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Abakan Red (1969)

"Students in art classes today are most often engaged with working on projects alone. Why do so many teachers resist collaboration? Is it solely the organizational challenges? We’re certainly aware of the benefits it offers to both students and ourselves. How can we overcome the fear of planning collaborative work to more realistically reflect contemporary practice?" (It Takes Two....or Two Hundred by Joe Fusaro)

In the 21st century, one must consider the lack of dedicated teachers, funding to hire more teachers, large class sizes and fear. Many educators are afraid to try "collective" techniques in the classroom. Collaboration is the purest form of art. Students are given an opportunity to explore, observe, learn and create work as a team. As I mentioned before, team building skills are essential to the job market today. Art is such a diverse and flexible medium. I am often shocked when I hear stories about art teachers who refuse to introduce 'group' assignments to the class. Group activities seem to relax the jagged divide between the student labeled 'the artist' and the student that constantly shouts "I HATE ART!" Students are able to bring their own level of expertise to the drawing board. One student may have strong hand-building or drawing skills while another student may have a solid knowledge of color theory.

Research is key when implementing collaborative lessons in the classroom. It is beneficial to the educator as well as the student to bounce ideas around and seek guidance from working artists. I am currently studying the graffiti movement. Before the analysis began, I assumed graffiti was a one person show. Recently, I discovered that graffiti artists collaborate with each other when 'tagging' or 'bombing'. Come to think of it a museum collaborates with the artist, art dealer, local organization and visitor. Teachers need to be proactive, and imaginative in their approach to design lessons that incorporate collective work.

"On my way home that evening, I started thinking about the number of artists in Season 4 alone that rely on other people to make their work ready for public viewing and/or consumption. The total number? Fifteen out of the seventeen, at least, rely on others to bring their work full circle into the gallery, museum, or exhibition space.I mention this fact because it came up in discussion more than once over the past week that the days of artists working alone in a studio, tortured with their ideas and feverishly slaving over canvas, are slowly coming to an end. Artists are collaborating more and more, and using teams to realize ideas that would be impossible to complete on their own." (Joe Fusaro "It Takes Two....or Two Hundred" Art 21 website)

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