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What Is Art? (A Classroom's Response)

Eighth graders reflect on the question, "What is art?" and their responses are thoughtful and inspiring.

So, it is that time of year again. We are halfway through the school year. Can you believe it? I can’t. 2011 flew by and I can only imagine 2012 will pass by just as quickly.

It has been exciting to see this group of young people learning and creating. It was a busy semester creating a portfolio of work that included ceramics, written interpretations, paintings, drawings and sculptures.

I thought it might be fun to ask my eighth graders, after 18 weeks of daily art classes, “What is art?”

Being that this is , I figured I would surely get a bunch of ridiculous answers, but you know what? I didn’t. The things they wrote down were inspiring and thoughtful.

“Art is a mixture of color and design. It is music, performance, and a lot of other elements combined. Art is passion flowing through the artist for all to see. Art is texture, pattern, movement and color... But, art is more than all of this. Art is feeling. It’s the emotion your feel inside when you sing a beautiful song or create a magnificent painting that the world is ready to hear and see.”

“We use art to inspire people.”

“Some people are very passionate about art. It takes a lot of courage to be good at art. You have to commit to it.”

“Our Earth couldn’t live without art.”

“Art is an expression of ourselves using a visual representation. It can be imagined and interpreted and it is often thought of as beautiful, though it has no need to be beautiful. It is a way for people to show their feelings and desires. It can be made to entertain, please, express, or represent something... Art is so much more than a nice sculpture, or a pretty picture.”

And certainly one of my favorite responses,

“Art is a big, fat, question mark. There is no specific answer. Nor a right or wrong answer.”

But, honestly, art is hard to define! It takes so many various shapes and forms. I’m pleased and proud to see that my students have an understanding for what art can be and encompass. I’m happy to see they have an eye for design, they can articulate their feelings, and they can brainstorm, create, cooperate and connect.

I’m realizing in my third year of teaching, that THIS is why I am here. Why I wake up early, stress myself out and put up with insane amounts of hormones and messy art materials. Because I want to be the person who helps them discover, design and dream.  

(I’m currently at home writing this; check back with me tomorrow while I’m elbow deep in recycled clay, have a blinding optical migraine and a stack of ungraded projects, and I might say otherwise.)

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Morgan Day January 12, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Ashley, I am always impressed by your students. And you take beautiful photos. Thanks for the great post!
Ashley Villers January 13, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Morgan, thank you! It definitely helps to have beautiful and talented subjects!
Shelley Cobb January 14, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Ashley, I love what you wrote about wanting to "be the person who helps them discover, design and dream." An important part of nurturing and educating our young is giving them the opportunity to "discover, design and dream." They also need to be surrounded by those who truly have their best interest at heart and sincerely enjoy being in their presence. Your students are very fortunate to have you as their teacher!

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