One aspect of a TAB classroom that gets criticized is when we allow our students to explore the same medium over and over and over. Critics often think this is wrong that we TAB teachers don’t expose our students to a variety of media by making them do different projects based on different materials. Unfortunately, this is not how artists work. Yes, some artists work in several mediums…Picasso and Degas come to mind. Both painted and sculpted. But, they came to other mediums because they wanted to explore, not because someone else told them to. I am sure they were aware of other mediums, but they preferred what they preferred. We do the same for our students. They are aware of other mediums, but ultimately, they should work in the medium they prefer or what they feel is best to convey their idea.
On Mondays, I introduce my students to contemporary artists. I want them to know what is being made in today’s art world. While deciding on artists to have them meet, I found 2 artists that reinforce this idea exploring the same medium over and over. First is El Anatsui. Second is Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor. I have included clips from both these artists. If you click on their names, you can find the entire video. Neither of these clips are about the art they make, but rather the message they are sending.
When we let our students continue to explore the same medium, they will begin to understand what it can offer. They can push the boundaries of the medium. They will understand what it means to research in an artistic sense. They will behave like artists.