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Beyond aesthetics : a contemporary approach to teaching visual language at a post secondary level


Beyond aesthetics : a contemporary approach to teaching visual language at a post secondary level

Benazon, Ophra (1998) Beyond aesthetics : a contemporary approach to teaching visual language at a post secondary level. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Because present discourse focuses on the conceptual aspect of art, I am concerned that the cognitive and affective aspects of visual language have been neglected. In this study I introduced students to a revised approach to the formal elements of art, that breaks away from the prescriptive nature of historical formalism and its association with elitism. I adopted a semiotic approach as developed by Fernande Saint-Martin built on psychoanalytical theory, on Jean Piaget's findings on human construction of space, and on gestalt theory. This approach is based on a notion of perception that incorporates other senses in addition to vision; it adopts no particular aesthetic theory, takes into consideration personal experience, leaves room for subjective interpretations; is not judgmental, yet does not drift into relativism. I posed the question: How will first-year painting students at Bishop's University be able to utilize, or not, selected aspects of Saint-Martin's visual language in the production and analysis of selected paintings. Students were encouraged to use art materials and visual language not as a means for expression of preconceived ideas, but rather as generators or facilitators of meaning. The teaching method is modeled on Donald Schön's reflection-in-action approach. The research method includes reflection-in-action together with phenomenography. The most surprising finding is that the in-class analysis of the elements resulted in productions and dialogues echoing an expressive aesthetic. A disappointing aspect is that the students did not adopt the terms proposed by Saint-Martin. Instead, they used everyday inclusive terms (e.g. rough texture) rather than specific ones (e.g. granular, pointillist), thus often missing more subtle discriminations. The study demonstrates that form and expression are intertwined, and that attention to form widens the students' visual vocabulary in painted images and in verbal expression. The assignments facilitated the students' use and stereotypes about the nature of art. The frequent dialogues, class discussions, and collective projects created a congenial atmosphere allowing for freedom of expression in our classroom deliberations on art

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art Education
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Benazon, Ophra
Pagination:vii, 340 leaves : col. ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Art Education
Thesis Supervisor(s):Sacca, Elizabeth J
ID Code:645
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 17:13
Last Modified:05 Feb 2019 23:03
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