A Day Without Art. . . Means Missing Out on the HumanExperiencePart 1Pat Knepley
“A picture is worth a thousand words.”
You’ve heard that familiar phrase. Perhaps you’ve said it yourself. In today’s highlyvisual culture, the importance of the visual arts in the total human experience cannotbe overstated. Integrating art into the standard academic curriculum is a necessity!It is fairly common to think of the visual arts as paintings or drawings we might seehung on a museum wall. But an appreciation of art is so much more! We aresurrounded by shapes, space, texture, and color. Everything in the averageAmerican home has an art element to it, namely, design: the pattern in thewallpaper or curtain fabric, the shape of the lamp, the candlestick, even theteakettle. And of course there are things on the walls: photos in frames, paintings orprints, perhaps even a sculptural piece. Although our tastes in design will varywidely, we all appreciate the beauty of a well-designed object. Who doesn’t like theclassic lines of the 1965 Ford Mustang? Pure art.So, then, the question becomes, Why should the home educator include the study of art as part of the core classical curriculum? Answer: Because all of humanity throughthe ages has used the arts to tell us stories about every aspect of the lives of thepeople—the culture, the nation, the history, the beliefs. A general understanding of what is involved in art education is probably more valuable to the homeschooler thanany artistic talent.According to one prominent approach to the study of art, Discipline-Based ArtsEducation (DBAE),
there are four components to a well thought-out art program: arthistory, art criticism, art production, and aesthetics. Home educators should considerall of these components as being equally valuable when they think of teaching “art,” as intimidating as that might be. In this article we will cover the first twocomponents: art history and art criticism, and finish up with the last two in February.The best way to explain how to encompass all four disciplines is to use a familiarpiece of art. Let’s look at Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous fresco, “The Last Supper.”
Leonardo Da Vinci was the quintessential Renaissance man of the late fifteenthcentury. He thought of himself as primarily an artist, but Da Vinci was also amathematician, inventor, scientist, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, andwriter. Da Vinci spent his younger years as an apprentice to a master artist andincreased in skill and recognition.Later on, Da Vinci was asked by his wealthy benefactor to paint a fresco to decoratethe refectory (dining hall) in the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Da Vinciworked on this project from 1495 to 1498. Even though Da Vinci was a great painter,he was constantly experimenting with his materials, so this project took a long time!