Guest post by Pat Knepley
Why should the home educator include art as part of the core classical curriculum? Because all of humanity through the ages has used the arts to tell us stories about every aspect of the lives of the people – their culture, their nations, their history, their beliefs.
A general understanding of what is involved in art education is probably more valuable to the homeschooler than any artistic talent.
There are four components to a well-thought-out art program as described in the Discipline-Based Arts Education (DBAE). These components are art history, art criticism, art production, and aesthetics. The home educator should consider all of these components as equally valuable when they think of teaching art, as intimidating as that might be.
The best way to explain how to encompass all four components is to use a piece of art as an example that most people would be familiar with: Leonardo da Vinci’s famous fresco The Last Supper.
In this post, we’ll be considering aesthetics.
Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy that deals with beauty in the world and seeks to define what makes something beautiful. To further develop a child’s art literacy, ask some questions about what he/she feels about a piece of art.
- Why does this appeal to you?
- What makes it beautiful to look at?
- How do you feel when you look at that?
Helping kids to relate to the world and communicate in art terms is immensely beneficial.
In a nutshell, art criticism is how one thinks about art and aesthetics is how one feels about art.
Aesthetics is the primary component of art used in interior design and fashion design, which seeks to discover what pleases the most people. Think about how you would feel walking into an expensive, exclusive restaurant with velvet curtains and marble tables versus the aesthetics of a local coffee shop with chrome stools and laminate counters.
When someone talks about an emotional response to art or design, that is aesthetics.
This iconic Renaissance fresco offers a great opportunity to ask what emotions da Vinci was trying to evoke from the viewer by depicting such a dramatic scene from the Bible: the very moment when Jesus tells his followers that one of them will betray Him.
What clues does the viewer get as to the emotions revealed in this scene, such as the hand gestures?
What can you imagine each disciple saying in response to the Lord’s announcement that one of them will betray him that very night?
How does the artist increase the sense of drama by the composition?
When looking at a piece of artwork, it is just as important to ask how you feel about it as what you think about it. As you go through your school year, why not take the time to incorporate aesthetics into your program? Find a book about art or art history, or go to one of many online art museums, and have your children react to some of the paintings and other artwork they see there. Better yet, go to a real art museum if you live near one.
You don’t have to be an artist to have a rich homeschool art program.