Week Thirteen

Some final thoughts on this course:

We've spent the past 13 weeks in this course looking at artists and their role in society in order to "critically examine differing beliefs or perspectives on various views of art, the role of the artist in society, as well as the purpose and goals of art education." We've read from a number of pundits on this topic and looked at a range of issues.

To truly understand the objectives of this course, I think we need to first define what we mean by "artist."

So, what is Art? What images do we conjure up when one says "so and so is an artist"? I think the discourse around this definition has tended towards a professionalization of the role. We often hear the claim that art, in its purest sense must somehow be set apart from the everyday existence of people and as a consequence must be transgressive, challenging, aesthetically meaningful, risk-taking or outrageous. In this context, the status of "artist" is achieved only after years of perfection, of working one's craft and of honing particular skills, and whose work must transmit a message that is "profoundly meaningful." However, in perpetuating this definition, we do a disservice both to the nature of the artist, and the nature of people in general. My belief is that art, and by extension artistic expression, must be seen as a grand continuum of skills and purposes.

Only relatively recently have we separated the work of craftsmen and artists:
In ancient Greece sculptors and painters were held in low regard, somewhere between freemen and slaves, their work regarded as mere manual labour. [...]

During the Middle Ages the word artist already existed in some countries such as Italy, but the meaning was something resembling craftsman, while the word artesan was still unknown. An artist was someone able to do a work better than others, so the skilled excellency was underlined, rather than the activity field. In this period some "artisanal" products (such as textiles) were much more precious and expensive than paintings or sculptures. [...]

Most often [today], the term describes those who create within a context of 'high culture', activities such as drawing, painting, sculpture, acting, dancing, writing, filmmaking, photography, and music — people who use imagination, talent, or skill to create works that may be judged to have an aesthetic value. (source)

Art does not require a binary "art/not-art" condition in order to justify itself, rather it can exist comfortably spread along a wide spectrum of media and objectives. In a sense, it is as if we have been trying to make one narrow band of the electromagnetic scale (i.e. colour or heat) the only important part, ignoring all others. This focus ignores the wider reality.

I believe that human beings have a strong artistic reflex. We intuit readily what is beautiful and appealing. We recognize balance and composition. We have an instinctive feel for colour and design and line. To appreciate this, we only need to look back in time to the 16,000 year old cave paintings of Lascaux or the 35,000 year old bone flute recently excavated in Germany. Pyramids and temples, statues and frescoes, vases and spear shafts, embroidery and folk songs: all testify to the constant upwelling of the artistic reflex in human beings across the ages.

What is it about our makeup that compels us to sing, dance, and decorate? It is the artist that lives at the heart of every man, woman and child. We need to recognize and affirm that art and artistry needs to be an element of our everyday lived experience, that it is a necessary part of the continuum of human expression. It is true that there are virtuosos in every field of endeavor, but we must not disparage the artistic dimension of the average citizen in order to validate the exceptional among us. Furniture designers, cartoonists, couturistes, fiddlers, architects, graffitos, textile makers, and so on, need to find their place among the sculptors, painters and concert violinists of the world.

In light of this, what is the role of the artist in society, and in particular in education? The artist in all of us is called to bring the full range of meaning and metaphor to our everyday life, to respond by enlivening, decorating, beautifying, challenging and reinterpreting our reality. Just as a rough diamond is cut with many facets to reflect the light from every angle, so the artist (in the widest possible definition of the term) is called to present to us all the many faces of our lived reality. A single facet is not enough. A single mode of artistic expression is too limiting. And for schools, this means that all teachers, not just the Art or Music or Dance teachers, have the awesome responsibility to guide students in finding and expressing the artistic reflex that is hidden in every heart. This is not about colouring within the lines or gluing pre-cut leaves on a page, but finding the Lascaux sensibilities and tribal rhythms that moved us all, once upon a time.


Week Twelve 1/2

The Music Lesson:


Week Twelve

The last act of "La Bohème":
Info on "La Scala"
Official La Scala website.
Karajan: bio
Zeffirelli: bio


Final Presentations:

Are artists/is art subversive?
"Yes, Art, all Art is subversive."

The margins of society.
Not economically lucrative.
"Art speaks to value, not money."

The "culture industry" - Adorno

Our institutions are not structured to allow experiental learning.

Exploring Creativity - by John A. Eisenberg


Artistic Mentoring in the classroom

Franklin D. Roosevelt: "Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort."

Being a creative teacher: we can give this energy to our students. And they give energy in return.

Being a creative teachers is different than teaching for creativity.

Being an artist teacher vs a teaching artist.

"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them." Baldwin, James

We have tremendous opportunities to help students, to provide a safe environment. If we wish to find the hidden spark of genius we must find it in ourselves.

The future: "the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."--Alvin Toffler.

The courage to teach. Book

"Artists and Society" class blog:
(Blogs in plain English)

How to create your own blog.
(View this helpful video clip.)

Extras to add:
(Blogger help here.)
  1. Links
  2. Image files
  3. Embed videos (Youtube)
  4. Add PDFs (Scribd, Issuu)
  5. bubbl.us
  6. timeglider
  7. slideshare
  8. other embeddable apps

How to use a blog in education.
• Web 2.0 "Using Blogs"
• A school in Richmond
Google Jockeying

Preserving your blog.
Create a book (blog2print)
(Will capture your content but will charge you for the PDF)
(Download their software to "slurp" your blog content. You can print it your self or have it printed for a price.)


Also: PrintWhatYouLike
(Good for printing all kinds of web content)

Bibliography help.

Yaroslav Senyshyn
"Perspectives on Performance and Anxiety and Their Implications for Creative Teaching"
Canadian Journal of Education 24 no1 30-41 Winter 1999
(Click HERE to search the eJournal database at SFU. You will need to search for the journal title, and then find the year of publication, and then view/download the article.)
"Rollo May, for instance, expresses the optimistic belief (after Kierkegaard) that ... anxiety supplies essential creative energy ... and that, instead of running away from anxiety, it is wisest to "move through it," achieving a measure of self realization in the process."
We read up to: "How is it that when we cannot deal with our anxiety, we "cope" with despair as a form of self-deception that leads to a loss of genuine humanness?"


Performance Anxiety: stage fright (Wikipedia)
-tips for conquering it! (Bloomingdale School of Music)


Week Eleven

Summary of Eisenberg's Limits of Reason:
"Reason as Crapshoot" by Y. Senyshyn
(Etobicoke Board of Education)

"Limits of Reason" is a rebuttal against those who espouse the determinacy of reason in knowledge. John Eisenberg's book examines practical and theoretical aspects of the indeterminable in reform programs in contemporary psychology, moral education, and the law. In particular, he establishes a philosophical basis for the latter as a Kantian noumenon. With this exploration, he discusses important consequences for society and brings us to the realm of creativity.

From the last paragraph:
"In conclusion, it is evident that the impasse of determinacy can only be "solved" by an investigation into the realm of creativity; but that, of course, is another book altogether. Eisenberg will have no choice but to live up to this next challenge. We will all be the richer for it."

Read the whole article:
Yaroslav Senyshyn, A Critical Notice on "The Limits of Reason: ... 1992); "Reason as Crapshoot," Interchange 24, no.3 (1993): 317–321, 319, 320

(Click HERE to search the eJournal database at SFU. You will need to search for the journal title (Interchange), and then find the year of publication, and then view/download the article.)

See first page below: click on it for large size.

Kant: Experience and Reality
Good summary here.
"According to Kant, it is vital always to distinguish between the distinct realms of phenomena and noumena. Phenomena are the appearances, which constitute the our experience; noumena are the (presumed) things themselves, which constitute reality. All of our synthetic a priori judgments apply only to the phenomenal realm, not the noumenal."

“Old Texts and Opera—Inciting Students to Read ”.
(Educational Leadership, April 2005, Volume 62
(Click HERE to search the eJournal database at SFU. You will need to search for the journal title (Educational Leadership), and then find the year of publication, and then view/download the article.)

"Over the next couple of days, before their lessons in grammar and other tasks, I told the class the libretto, or story, of the opera, in which a young wife falls in love with a villager and breaks her older husband's heart. I used slang and milked the "love triangle" aspect. Between my embellishments and the inevitable comments of the students, it took some time to finish the tale, but the class was intrigued by the plot with its double murder and suicide. When we reached the end of the tale, I mentioned, very nonchalantly, that someone had actually written a musical for this tragic story."


Pavarotti "Vesti La Giubba" - I Pagliacci


"Go on stage, while I'm nearly delirious?
I don't know what I'm saying or what I'm doing!
And yet, chin up! I'll try harder. Bah, you think you're a man?
You're just a clown! On with the show, man,
and put on your white-face.
The people pay you and you must make them laugh.
And if Harlequin should steal your Columbine, laugh,
you're Pagliaccio, and the world will clap for you!
Turn into banter all your pain and sorrow,
and with your clowns' face hide grief and distress...
Laugh loud, Pagliaccio, forget all of your troubles,
Laugh off the pain that so empoisons your heart."

"Che gelida manina" Puccini: La Bohème Act I
Luciano Pavarotti (Rodolfo) Ileana Cotrubas (Mimì) Maestro Carlos Kleiber Teatro alla Scala, 1979

"La Bohème" an Opera handbook
by Arthur Groos, Roger Parker
(a Google book)

"La Bohème" libretto in Italian

"La Bohème" libretto translation into English

Some fun "philosophy" comics:
"Dungeons and Discourse."

First page,

Second page.

Week Ten

Individuation and the creative process: Sylvia and Atisa -

Background info:
1. Jung: text of a lecture on the nature of individuation. <here>

2. Here's a good handout on Jungian terms.
The quote below is taken from it:

"INDIVIDUATION. Jung believed that a human being is inwardly whole, but that most of us have lost touch with important parts of our selves. Through listening to the messages of our dreams and waking imagination, we can contact and reintegrate our different parts. The goal of life is individuation, the process of coming to know, giving expression to, and harmonizing the various components of the psyche. If we realize our uniqueness, we can undertake a process of individuation and tap into our true self. Each human being has a specific nature and calling which is uniquely his or her own, and unless these are fulfilled through a union of conscious and unconscious, the person can become sick."
The article by Anthony Storr talks about Beethoven's "Grosse Fuge" and how it illustrates the process of individuation.
Here's a string quartet version of this piece.

What is a fugue? See <here> for a definition. (Another example below. The clip shows the sheet music along with the soundtrack.)

Carlos Castaneda and the power of dreams:
(See here for entry.)


Sylvia mentioned the Hindu festival she witnessed in Malaysia.
Here's a brief explanation.

The Discursive Mind:
This link will take you to the Amazon site and let you look at selected portions of the book.

The unconscious mind: Is there such a thing?


Good article on the life and work of Hafez, a Persian poet who's work can be seen as an illustration of individuation.

"Open my grave when I am dead, and thou shalt see a cloud of smoke rising out from it; then shalt thou know that the fire still burns in my dead heart -- yea, it has set my very winding-sheet alight."

"If the scent of her hair were to blow across my dust when I had been dead a hundred years, my mouldering bones would rise and come dancing out of the tomb."

"I have estimated the influence of Reason upon Love and found that it is like that of a raindrop upon the ocean, which makes one little mark upon the water's face and disappears." <link to page>

(And information on sufism.)
Link here for some music used in dances.
And here for a clip of dancing:

Click here for a Persian example

Music and The Mind
Anthony Storr
(Another Amazon link, allows you to browse sections of the book.)


The Lion of Comarre:
Arthur C. Clark. A novella. Here's a review.
"The theme of a humanity that has reached an impasse and refuses to collectively develop is an interesting one, and all the more surprising considering that Clarke is writing in 1946! What’s fascinating for instance is Clarke writing about super-minds and hyper-intelligent machines when computers were still top-secret devices held in military laboratories…"


Law in itself and Final Comments:
Amanda and Ian:

Casabianca: analysis and text

"Faith on trial"
Here's a great site that gives handouts and guidance for setting up a "mock trail" built around a literature-based event.


Week Nine

(BTW, here's a link to Anna Banana's art exhibition.)

Since we didn't have a class this Canada Day, I thought I would look for some good links that explore Art in a Canadian context. Here are some of the resources I found.


"As Canada’s leading visual arts magazine, Canadian Art is a prestigious, award-winning, quarterly magazine showcasing the best of contemporary Canadian and historical art. With dynamic images, layouts and writing we present the vitality and variety of the visual arts in Canada. Superb full-colour reproductions, luscious paper stock and elegant design are hallmarks of the magazine."

Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art
"The Canadian Art Database Project currently holds 54,000+ images and 600+ video and audio clips by 600+ artists and designers; and 1,600+ texts by 200+ writers and curators." Scroll down for lists of artists in various media.

National Gallery of Canada
"The National Gallery of Canada's mandate is to develop, maintain, and make known, throughout Canada and internationally, a collection of works of art, both historic and contemporary, with special, but not exclusive, reference to Canada, and to further knowledge, understanding, and enjoyment of art in general among all Canadians." There is a handy search feature that allows visitors to the site to look for artists and works. The NGC also hosts the CyberMuse, an Art Education research site.

Applied Arts Magazine:
"Applied Arts is Canada’s premier magazine of visual communications. For more than 20 years, we have delivered gorgeous imagery, strong opinion, timely information and essential industry insight to our readership of senior creative professionals in graphic design, interactive design, advertising, photography and illustration. Our six yearly issues include two highly prized references—the Photography & Illustration Annual (July) and the Design & Advertising Annual (November). Applied Arts is your window on the very best creative work produced in this country and abroad."

Border Crossings
Border Crossings is a quarterly cultural magazine published in Winnipeg. Its subject is contemporary Canadian and international art and culture, which the magazine investigates through articles, columns, reviews, profiles, interviews and portfolios of drawings and photographs. Border Crossings crosses both disciplinary and geographic boundaries in its coverage of the visual, performing and the literary arts. The magazine’s interest is in the edges where new art is produced.

What is art anyway? What is an artist? Is "Roadsworth" one?

In a similar style to the kinds of things Roadsworth has done, but done in a stop-action video format, using blacktop and chalk for the decor and the props, check out this Coldplay music video. Very cool!
See also this NFB page for other Canadian Artists.


Week Eight

Il Postino

If you liked the musical theme, you can listen to it here.

View the trailer for the movie below.


What is a Poem?(an excerpt - The Poetry Experience, by Fitch and Swartz)

"What can be explained," wrote Carl Sandburg, "is not poetry." Maybe, just maybe, that is why we need poetry.

Those who teach poetry with passion and joy know it is one of the richest learning experiences students can have. We journey to worlds and peer into spaces in our hearts and minds and souls through poetry.

Poetry is word music, an art form that belongs to a rich oral tradition that pre-dates the written word.

At its most serious, poetry rattles us to the core of our being. Verse of the most nonsensical kind urges us, like an itch, to scratch and burst forth into a slide of syllables ourselves.

Poetry invites us to be.

Why poetry? If we hope to see curious, skeptical, creative thinkers emerge from our classrooms and go on to reach their potential, we offer them the experience of poetry.



Great resources for teaching and discussing poetry.


Choral Recitation: (Video clips)

If the Earth were a few feet in diameter: text


Neruda: poetry

The Symbolic Order: Teaching Poetry by George Shalley

As far as the teaching of poetry is concerned, probably the best we can do—each in his own way—is to find out how to bring our students into the presence of poems.

Li Young Lee

Reading his work

"Law as a Historical Process"
by Eisenberg