On Being an Atelierista: Languages and the reason for studios in schools

Going through some old piles of things I have been meaning to read, I came across this quote from Maxine Greene, in the article "Radical Puppets and the Language of Art" in Art Education from May 2009 (I told you it was an old pile!)
Working out where the black bunny painting is in the basement.
Is it something we should be scared of, or not?

"You can learn more about the language of art, not in the hope that you can be transformed into an (artist), but so you will have at hand a greater range of means of expression, ways of saying what ordinary language can rarely capture or convey." (2001, p. 111)

"I'm drawing a real Princess of India, not a Disney Princess"

When drawing and writing are not yet developmentally
appropriate, other media can serve as a tool of communication.
This quote really captures the essence of studio thinking and the reason for introducing art media and materials into the school across every discipline. I do think that many of the students who have access to ateliers and atelieristas in school will continue with art throughout their lives, at least I hope that the habits they develop in drawing from observation, for instance, will continue. 

However, the main reason I believe it is important to give children exposure and techniques in art media is that idea of languages. By providing children time and access to these media and materials, we give them the chance to think about things in ways they have not thought of before, to show us their ideas, and to 'say' things they may not be able to say in other ways. 


  1. Maybe that is why kids who go through the program/school tend to be eloquent and express themselves better than their same aged peers.... Or maybe parents who parent intentionally chose such schools because it shares a child raising ideal..... Hmmmmmm.....

  2. I've mentioned to you before that I credit Sabot's studio (and you, and the other teachers) with building artistic competence in my children. They have an idea of the affordances of various materials and can draw on that knowledge when they wish to express themselves. I'm only just starting to understand my lack of understanding of and comfort with various media, and just as with spoken languages, it's much more difficult and awkward to develop that "language" as an adult, rather than as a child.

  3. I agree, Jess - I can't tell you how many times Nolan has asked me to draw something (an old-timey VW beetle, for instance) and I have balked and gone, "No, I can't draw." That's part of my perception of myself - I didn't get the artistic talent in my family, that's my little brother, don't ask me to draw things. What am I teaching him by being so afraid of how bad it will look that I'm not even trying? How can I re-learn as an adult to continue to try to express myself in ways other than spoken/written language. I want to go to Sabot.

  4. At some point that thing happens to people, when they lose confidence in their ability to draw. It seems like their are very few children who won't just pick up a pen and try, but lots of teens and adults...even if you are not one of the ones who perseveres and keeps drawing, I wish that "I can't draw" feeling didn't have to come. It's like the judgments about how well you can represent things becomes more important than how fun it is or how much it helps you think through a problem. Sad


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