You are on page 1of 28


Title: Chapter 2 in Teaching Visual Culture

Author(s): Kerry Freedman

Source/Date: 2003

Main Idea/Purpose (2-3 sentences):

The results of a study conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress

(NAEP) revealed that eighth-grade students were unable to make connections between meaning

and form, implying that art educators were basing their curriculums on formalism. The chapter

recounts the rise of analytical aesthetic and the importance of art education as a means of

teaching critique of visual culture. Freedman concludes that form and meaning are inherently

bound, as are visual culture and fine art, and that an aesthetic education cannot be taught without

taking into account the complexities each field of study.

Short Overview (Including at least 2-3 important quotes):

Freedman argues that art education and aesthetics are valuable, in part, because they

teach students how to critique both art and the world around them. However, the symbiotic

relationship between meaning and form has not always been an accepted concept. Freedman

reasons that the industrialization of the early 20th century inspired a heavy emphasis on science,

which in provided a natural gateway for the rise of formalism. Freedman says formalism,

“Appears only to facilitate an analysis of what is contained within a work of art, it has actually

conditioned students to approach visual culture as a series of objects isolated from larger social
meanings” (Freedman, 2003, p. 27). Thus, reduction of artworks into independent elements

reduces art to its formal qualities and acts under the assumption that, “the artifacts of any culture

can appropriately be taught as if they were outside the context of time and place” (Freedman,

2003, p. 27). In this way, while trying to reduce art to a formulaic field, formalism neglects the

basic tenants of both fine art and the social issues that it seeks to address. Artists who rejected

formalism opted for alternative modes of representation, such as symbolism, action painting or


Although disagreeing with modernist perspectives, Freedman acknowledges that many

modernist theories were responses to the societies in which the philosophers lived in. For

example, during the Industrial Revolution, “metaphysical thinking was considered distinct from

scientific method and aesthetic experience was conceptualized as separate from ethical

judgement” (Freedman, 2003, p. 35). Others argued that formalism emerged as a reaction to the

blurred line separating fine art and visual culture.

Freedman closes the chapter by citing Dewian philosophy, affirming that fine art is not

something that can be fragmented into elements and principles to be examined as disparate

entities. In fact, fine art is all encompassing, comprised not only of material, form and process,

but also the time and space in which the art object exists, among other variables. In short, “Art is

not only about the isolated effects of formal qualities,” but they, “involve a social relationship

between people mediated by visual culture” (Freedman, 2003, p. 42).

Critical Response: Reflections and/or relevance to personal art educational experiences/or

teaching experience

Freedman’s chapter investigates the complex relationship between art and society, which
is a conversation that becomes increasingly relevant the nearer we are to the end of our

preservice program. It is important to be able to articulate this relationship to administrations,

parents and in our own studio practice in order to uphold the validity of and necessity for our

field. Freedman’s description of formalism has undertones of Karen Barad’s theory of Agential

Realism, in that formal qualities cannot exist on their own without interaction to other properties

or materials.

Matter is always entangled with other forces, and an object cannot possess characteristics

without consideration for the objects’ relationships to other variables. For example, Basquiat’s

Irony of a Negro Policeman cannot simply be assessed for its mark making and texture. The

meaning of the artwork is not solely communicated through the formal qualities of the painting,

but through the personal history of the artist, race relations present throughout the country, and

the place in time in which the image was created.

Both Agential Realism and Dewian philosophy suggest that each material, process, and

idea have its own separate connotations, but art is the binding agent that connects all elements as

one. Art educators can use these theories as a means of demonstrating to students the

interconnectedness of the social world.


Freedman, K. (2003). Finding Meaning in Aesthetics. In Teaching visual culture: Curriculum,

aesthetics and the social life of art. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Lather, P. (2018, January 9). Agential Realism – New Materialism. Retrieved from


Title: Chapter 3: in Teaching Visual Culture

Author(s): Kerry Freedman

Source/Date: 2003

Main Idea/Purpose (2-3 sentences):

By demonstrating critical analysis of art history and emphasis on the regular reevaluation

of the measure of quality, Freedman provides solutions for guiding students through the

complexities of art, visual culture, the societies that they live in. Through this investigation, she

concludes that contemporary art education should address the past, but should also include the

present as a means of contextualizing and assessing the making and meaning of art.

Short Overview (Including at least 2-3 important quotes):

As a response to art education and historical education in schools, Freedman contends

that, “history is not the past; it is the reconstruction of the past. Because the past is made up of

people and events to which we no longer have direct access, history involves interpretations of

remnants of those events and the objects created by those people” (Freedman, 2003, p. 44). With

that said, since past is not an active agent, the retelling of it is subjective to its raconteur.

Freedman posits that historicism operates under the assumption that history is linear,

meaning one event or movement occurs subsequent to or as a reaction to another. The reality,

however, is that histories are much messier, and that linear retellings are, “problematic because

the representation carries with it an assumption that the past is...atomistic, made up of actions
and reactions, and as if peoples and ideas are off the timeline and do not exist” (Freedman, 2003,

p. 48). Thus, in order to honor the complexities of the human experience, educators must be

cognizant of the subjectivity or retelling and learn to teach in multiple ways and through multiple

lenses. Art educators must also acknowledge that students enter the classroom with distinct

imagic stores, or collections of images and memories that are specific to them.

The imagic store unavoidably affects the way in which each person contextualizes, and

consequently judges art and visual culture. This consequently complicates the critique of quality,

as both “good” and “bad” are subjective. Freedman explains, “This definition of quality does not

help us in determining quality in and on the borders of contemporary fine art and popular culture,

which is one important reason why little new visual culture is addressed in classrooms”

(Freedman, 2003, p. 53). Rather than reject the importance of the measure of quality, Freedman

suggests that added complexities may actually elevate the art experience by creating a richer

learning experience. She says, “To contextualize learning is to help students understand that

many conditions influence judgements of goodness and that those judgements are made based on

the relationship to these conditions.” She continues that this is a, “higher level of thinking than

students achieve when instructed in only studio techniques and processes (Freedman, 2003, p.


Critical Response: Reflections and/or relevance to personal art educational experiences/or

teaching experience

Freedman introduces the chapter by citing Preziosi’s opinion of the role of a social

historian as compared to an art historian. His definition minces words, pigeonholing each

academic into a role that is limited to her disciplines and is less complex than reality. In Courtnie
Wolfgang’s article in Visual Arts Research titled Productive Uncertainties: Deleuze|Guattari,

Feminist Theory, and Disciplinary Boundary Crossing, Wolfgang investigates disciplinary

boundaries of the arts.

Like Freedman, Wolfgang emphasizes the impact of the past on the present, stating,

“Being is static, while becoming represents a state of constant proceeding. It is in the becoming

that we inhabit in-between spaces, the imperceptible” (Wolfgang, 2013, p. 53). While Freedman

draws attention to the existence of the in-between space, Wolfgang takes it a step further and

suggests that it is the in-between in which we should seek to live. She channels the Deleuzian

philosophy of locating the outer edge of acceptability and setting up shop. Wolfgang removes the

static nature of the past and allows it agency, encouraging its interaction with the present.

The goal of an art educator should be to recognize the uniqueness of each student’s

imagic store and teach them to harness their own inertia in order to find the in-between. For,

“becoming is characterized by constant proceedings: X or Y or Z or...becomes X and Y and Z”

(Wolfgang, 2013, p. 54). Art is cross-disciplinary in its history, content and method, and students

should explore their artistic identity through experimentation in all directions. For naming of a

discipline limits its potential, but the in-between opens doors.


Freedman, K. (2003). Finding Meaning in Aesthetics. In Teaching visual culture: Curriculum,

aesthetics and the social life of art. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Wolfgang. (2013). Productive Uncertainties:Deleuze|Guattari, Feminist Theory,and Disciplinary

Boundary Crossings. Visual Arts Research, 39(1), 52.


Title: Chapter 4: in Teaching Visual Culture

Author(s): Kerry Freedman

Source/Date: 2003

Main Idea/Purpose (2-3 sentences):

What humans see is mediated through psychobiological processes paired with the

expectations and prior knowledge of what is being seen. Post-formal research suggests that

humans do not inherently learn or develop at the same rate, but that our learning is activated by

interest. Consequently, educators must develop instructional methods that encourage critical

analysis, production and interpretation.

Short Overview (Including at least 2-3 important quotes):

Emotion and cognition have a symbiotic relationship, but prior to the onset of

behaviorism western education systems dealt with these processes independently as if they were

unrelated to each other. Behaviorism suggests that behavior is influenced by stimuli and

personal history. In accordance, Freedman argues that learning and development are not fixed

variables that increase in concurrence with age. Rather, learning is an active agent that is

influenced by a multitude of variables, most significant of which are context and prior

knowledge. In other words, is the content being taught interesting to the learner based on her

personal history and is she able to draw associations between what is being taught and her bank

of prior knowledge?
Freedman cites the processing of visual culture as a type of learning that is dependent on

sociocultural context and prior knowledge. She says, “Visual culture engages us on multiple

levels with our environment. Although psychobiological processes that become engaged when

we see visual culture may seem mechanistic, we come to know and use our knowledge to engage

with our environment in different, individual ways and in ways influenced by social groups”

(Freedman, 2003, p. 64). Similarly, if a student does not have prior knowledge to draw on, they

will be less engaged in what is being taught. Freedman explains, “When viewers do not have a

critical understanding of visual culture, looking at [it] can seem a waste of time because they

may not be connected to the viewer’s previous, complex knowledge...Learning is dependent on

student engagement, which is an indicator of emotional investment” (Freedman, 2003, p. 65-66).

This is important to consider in the art classroom because, as Freedman points out, the art

object does not exist independently. The action of the viewer interacting with the art object is

when the art object becomes actualized. Freedman says, “An expressive object, regardless of the

meaning of the production for the artist, does not have inherent meaning; the experience of an

audience with visual culture makes it meaningful” (Freedman, 2003, p. 69) Similarly, students

do not exist independently as skilled or unskilled, but are an amalgamation of their prior

knowledge, experiences, genetics and applied effort.

Freedman insists that art education curriculum should mirror the complexities of its

audience and rejects the polarizing approach to curriculum that separates emotion and cognition.

She says, “Although the purposes of public school art education have sociocultural roots,

children have been represented in curriculum as though they are without attributes of culture”

(Freedman, 2003, p. 75). Thus, art educators should acknowledge the interactive nature of

learning and develop robust curriculums that encourage critical analysis and compound

Critical Response: Reflections and/or relevance to personal art educational experiences/or

teaching experiences

Freedman’s anecdote about the non-art students who were displaying physical signs of

fear upon entering a museum resonated with me because of its candor. Having only “talked

shop” with other artists and intellectuals for the past few months, I have forgotten how daunting

it can feel to look at a canvas painted by someone I am not familiar with. Moreover, if I am to

take Freedman’s advice and create a dynamic curriculum that introduces fresh content, I am

undoubtedly going to introduce concepts and artists whom my students are unacquainted with.

That being said, introducing students to new artists and art forms serve as a major crossroads. If

they are unable to process the material being presented to them, students may be hesitant to

continue exploring art. On the other hand, if I am able to help build confidence within my

students and equip them with ways of looking at and interpreting art, they will be able to use

those tools forever, both in and out of the classroom. The process of dissecting a painting into

layers of prior knowledge, associations and judgements is a method that can be applied to any

discipline and will train students how to critically interpret the world around them.


Behaviorism. (2018, April 6). Retrieved from

De Freitas, E. (2017). Karen Barad’s Quantum Ontology and Posthuman Ethics: Rethinking the

Concept of Relationality. Qualitative Inquiry, 23(9), 741-748.

Freedman, K. (2003). Art and Cognition. In Teaching visual culture: Curriculum, aesthetics and

the social life of art (pp. 64-85). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Title: Chapter 5: in Teaching Visual Culture

Author(s): Kerry Freedman

Source/Date: 2003

Main Idea/Purpose (2-3 sentences):

Fine art is a form of visual culture and as such it is a complex, active agent which should

be contextualized, analyzed and interpreted. Visual culture is part of a feedback loop which

cycles from production to the viewer, to the viewer’s emotional or cognitive response, and back

to production of new forms of visual culture based on the perceived responses to original output.

That being said, art educators should prepare students to think critically about both art and visual

culture so as be able to aware of and actively engage in the world around them.

Short Overview (Including at least 2-3 important quotes):

Students are often introduced to the concept of interpretation by being shown popular

images fine art and being taught to break down the images in search of visual clues that will help

the viewer determine the artwork’s intended meaning. However, whether or not we were aware

of it, starting from an early age we have all been impacted by messages and signifiers

communicated to us images in the world around us. Although we may have thought we learned

the skills of interpretation by being exposed to art, it more likely that we were influenced by

advertisements before ever entering a museum. Freedman (2003) explains, “Ads also teach

people how to ‘read’ ads: They contain didactic cues that educate viewers to interpret imagery in
a particular manner that is quickly recognized, deeply associative, and easily internalized.” She

goes on to say, “Advertisements illustrate the process of establishing meaning for audiences in

relation to the interpretation of signs. The arbitrary sets of written and pictorial signifiers carry

with them certain cultural associations” (Freedman, 2003, p. 99-100).

As Freedman suggests, even if we are not aware of their power, advertisements and

visual culture interact with our personal histories and belief systems and are highly suggestive.

That being said, art curriculums should be designed in an extremely comprehensive way. For

example, art history should address the socioeconomic, cultural, and personal backgrounds of the

artists being talked about. It should also give context to the artwork by talking about the time

period and place in which it was made, and what was happening in terms of political, religious or

social movements at that time that might impact the meaning of the work. Curriculums should

include analytical and interpretive skills, materiality and technical associations, visual culture

and art history in tandem with technical skills. Freedman says, “The skills required to produce,

analyze, and assess this expanding realm of visual culture are complex, crossing many types of

old boundaries, and indicate that a broadening of curriculum is essential...Curriculum must now

address objects that are made, seen, and judged in terms of an array of sociocultural positions,

interactions, and institutions” (Freedman, 2003, p. 87).

Art educators should understand the importance of delivering a comprehensive

curriculum that equips students with tools to interpret and contextualize the world around them.

Visual culture exists on a feedback loop that we are all a part of, despite whether or not we

consciously participate in it. It is created to cater to or challenge a certain group’s perceptions.

The group is impacted by the images that they perceive and interpret, causing them to alter their

choices, identities, or belief systems, visual culture reacts to the change. As Freedman explains
“The impact of imagery has a wide range of sociopolitical and economic issues which, in turn,

influence students’ identities, notions of citizenship, beliefs about democracy, and so on.

Consider the concept of ‘image’ not only in terms of its literal visual meaning, but also in its

sense as a surface representation. As previously mentioned, from a postmodern perspective,

surface is not just surface; it is deep with context and meaning” (Freedman, 2003, p. 97).

Critical Response: Reflections and/or relevance to personal art educational experiences/or

teaching experience

My favorite elementary school teacher, Mrs. Salerno, had a tray full of worksheets that

we could work on whenever we finished an activity early. Once we finished 10, we could trade

in our stamp sheet for a piece of candy, which really wasn’t necessary because the worksheets

were fun to do as it was. Most of the worksheets were word searches or crossword puzzles, but

my favorite was a full sheet of company logos like McDonald’s and Jiffy Lube and we had to

come up with the name of the company that matched the logo. I didn’t know it at the time, but

even in 5th grade I was already a participant in the visual culture feedback loop. But more than

that, thinking about visual culture excited me!

During my clinical hours at St. Mary, I have seen my own students incorporate visual

culture into their artwork. During my stained-glass project that I introduced during fall semester,

one student depicted the cartoon Peppa Pig on his stained glass window. I saw many references

to Fortnite, Facebook, Youtube stars and Snapchat while observing Ivy’s arpilleras project. I

even had a student in my 8th grade class reference the thin blue line in his sculptural adornment,

which is symbolic of law enforcement.

During Introduction to Elementary Art, Dr. Boughton taught us to be aware of what is

interesting and relevant to our students. While all of the middle methods lesson plans were

extremely thorough and well thought out, I noticed that some of the students pushed back when

faced with the challenge of talking about social issues, however they all expressed interest in

visual culture. That being said, in the future I think incorporating relevant visual culture into my

lesson plans and using that as a jumping off point to talk about important issues and skills would

be a more effective way of broaching difficult content.


Freedman, K. (2003). Art and Cognition. In Teaching visual culture: Curriculum, aesthetics and

the social life of art (pp. 64-85). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Title: Chapter 6: in Teaching Visual Culture

Author(s): Kerry Freedman

Source/Date: 2003

Main Idea/Purpose (2-3 sentences):

Post-modern curriculums are dynamic, cross-disciplinary productions that directly and

indirectly shape the learning scope of students. Art educators should take advantage of a post-

modern curriculum by tapping in to the cache of knowledge and associations that students store

from visual culture and personal experiences, and using these connections to establish a more

constructive, indispensable program.

Short Overview (Including at least 2-3 important quotes):

Art education is more than the instruction of technical skill because, simply put, it helps

teach us how to make informed decisions about the world around us. This includes but is not

limited to choices related to visual culture and socioeconomic, political and educational

decisions. International competition in the 1960s pushed art education towards a DBAE based

curriculum because it produced results that were more easily measured and could be compared to

the progress of other countries. However, the 1970s and 80s pushed away from DBAE, finding

value in higher level thinking. Freedman (2003) explains the transition saying, “Curriculum was

to aid student understanding of the conditions of democracy and the importance of cultural

context to this understanding” (Freedman, 2003, p. 107).

For art education, this was a logical transition because art education is inherently cross-

disciplinary and reinforces the basic foundations of a contributing member of society: morality,

respect for differences, open-mindedness, and the ability to see from multiple perspectives.

Freedman expands on these ideas by saying, “The discussion of controversial issues by students

in an open intellectual climate is associated with higher levels of political interest, efficacy, and

knowledge. These conflicts can also help students to understand concepts such as justice through

the consideration of moral dilemmas by diverse groups” (Freedman, 2003, p. 108).

With a higher importance being placed on art education, curriculum naturally became a

center of focus. Freedman contends that curriculum is fluid, dynamic and a process. It is

influenced by the beliefs and values of the educator who created it, and it should focus on issues

of importance in addition to the technical aspects of art. Freedman describes curriculums as

collage-like, “made up of multiple contributions, from various sources, with competing interests.

They involve a cut-and-pasted construction of the ideas of individuals and groups. These ideas

are selected and brought together, with care and a sense of unease to form a whole” (Freedman,

2003, p. 110). The process of responsive curriculum building should be made visible to the

student so that they “own” part of the curriculum and become vested in the learning process.

Freedman explains this benefit in saying, “Through curriculum inquiry, students’ construction of

knowledge can be enhanced as they work with teachers to take part in these processes”

(Freedman, 2003, p. 111). That is, students are removed from the banking process and

introduced to participatory pedagogy.

The communal classroom offers a richer learning experience because it encourages criticality,

questioning and valuable discussion. Art is not black and white in that there is not one correct

answer that the teacher is leading the class towards finding. Rather, art is a tangle of questions
that require critical inquiry to solve. Freedman says, “Art problems are authentic; they are some

of the few problems in school for which the teacher does not know the answer. They are

sociocultural, as well as psychobiological, and will unpredictably cross disciplinary boundaries”

(Freeman, 2003, p. 113).

Creating a transparent curriculum is the most productive way of providing students with a

live example of connected teaching. However, as Freedman points out, “Curriculum is often

designed in ways that actually mystify and hide these qualities because considerations of art in

classrooms have often been intended to control, manage, and objectify, rather than reveal the

social, cultural, and personal interactions and influences of visual culture” (Freedman 2003, p.

2003). That being said, allowing students to access them man behind the curtain gives them

insight into the importance of what they are being taught and how it fits into other systems of


Critical Response: Reflections and/or relevance to personal art educational experiences/or

teaching experience

Last night I was at book club with my girlfriends, two of whom are public school

teachers. The book we chose to read was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey and

someone asked my friend Katie, an English teacher, whether this book was still being taught in

high school. She replied something along the lines of, “It’s in the AP curriculum, but...” I

stopped there and thought about her wording: The AP curriculum. My first reaction was a cringe

because her wording implied that the English teachers at her school all used the same

curriculums. Although this is probably true of most subjects and schools, this conversation

occurred just a few hours after I had read Freedman’s chapter, Curriculum as Process, so I was

especially sensitive to the conversation topic. What began as an irritation because of the lesser
work load of these teachers that I had never met, turned into an appreciation for the additional

responsibilities that I will have as an art educator.

Despite the public perception of art educators as arts and crafts coordinators, art

educators’ actual roles are far more profound. Art educators have the unique opportunity to, as

Freedom points out, to cross disciplines and tap into prior knowledge and personal experiences

of our students as a means of reaching a broader lesson. Additionally, the students that elect to

enroll in art classes are often open minded, or possible discontent with other classes that they

have been placed in. In this way, art educators are given a unique opportunity to not only create

inclusive, dynamic curriculums, but also amass and mobilize the energy brought to the table by

the students enrolled in the class. Thus, because students do not have strict expectations of what

they will learn in an art classes, art educators are able to infuse their own belief systems and

values into their curriculums and teach what they feel is most important and will create change.

This is not a burden of responsibility, but a welcomed blessing given to art educators alone.


Freedman, K. (2003). Art and Cognition. In Teaching visual culture: Curriculum, aesthetics and

the social life of art (pp. 64-85). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Title: Chapter 7: in Teaching Visual Culture

Author(s): Kerry Freedman

Source/Date: 2003

Main Idea/Purpose (2-3 sentences):

Visual technologies such as television, film, the Internet and video games have an

enormous potential to cross disciplinary boundaries by cultivating context and connection

building. These technologies, however, also possess the power to seduce and deceive which

places a greater responsibility on art educators to teach students how to be critical observers.

Short Overview (Including at least 2-3 important quotes):

Visual technologies enable us to easily make connections because they are capable of

making references to and mimicking many different sentiments and experiences within a single

platform. While this flexibility opens new doors for art educators it also complicates their role,

forcing a larger emphasis on criticality and analysis in the curriculum. Freedman (2003)

explains, “Technological imagery blurs the boundaries between truth and fiction by acting as

both” (Freedman, 2003, p. 129). With that said, art educators must teach students how to garner

personal agency through the development of analytical and interpretive skills.

Freedman points out that new technologies such as video games are not only visual

displays but can also be used as learning devices. This presents a similar challenge as the concept

of virtual reality because while discovering new tools for learning is exciting, it also changes the
terms under which knowledge is acquired. That is, “Such games promote the development of

many alternative answers to questions and various routes to establish a narrative. This is in

contrast to the way in which a book or traditional film is structured, but even the feature film

industry has begun to produce films that are less linear” (Freedman, 2003, p. 132). Therefore,

since visual technologies no longer follow a linear path, educators must be willing to adapt

lessons and practice flexible teaching.

While art educators are challenged with an added variable to their curriculums, new

technology allows for students to develop personal agency. Armed with the tools of critical

analysis, students are empowered to step outside of the one sided cycle of being marketed to, and

become active participants in their own decision making processes. Freedman explains,

“Students at every level of education have the capacity to take part in the production of visual

culture through their artistic uses of technology. Newer technologies are visual arts media in

their potential to enable the production of things never before seen. Often students at the high

school and higher education levels initiate their own uses of technology to make a range of visual

culture forms” (Freeman, 2003, p. 135).

Computer technology can be both a static tool and part of an active system. Computers

can be used in the planning process as a pseudo-sketchbook or brainstorming tool. Freedman

says, “Students can test colors, move shapes around, animate objects, and recycle pictures

quickly and easily without making permanent changes to an original image” (Freedman, 2003, p.

138). Computers can also be interactive, “mak[ing] it easy for students to communicate with

each other from different locations. Through the use of home pages and E-mail, groups and

individuals can instantly communicate with other groups at long distance, enabling students to

work together who would otherwise have little opportunity for contact” (Freedman, 2003, p.

Visual technologies vests its users with the power of unlimited information, but as

Freedman points out, “Students are now able to access all kinds of information through the

Internet, without any assurance of quality” (Freedman, 2003, p. 146). Without learning to safely

navigate the waters of visual technologies, students will be susceptible to hidden biases,

seductive advertising and blurred realities. That being said, art educators must cement

themselves in the navigation process and embolden students with skills of critical analysis.

Critical Response: Reflections and/or relevance to personal art educational experiences/or

teaching experience

Teaching Visual Culture was published 15 years ago and while references to Live Action

Role Play and Blair Witch Project are a little bit outdated, the sentiments of Freedman’s analysis

of visual technology are still relevant. However, in terms of my own practice, newer technology

takes on an additional challenge. I graduated with my BFA in metalsmithing 6 years ago and was

put out into the workforce with an array of antiquated skills such as chase and repoussé,

electroforming and forging tools from steel stock. When I began applying for jobs, however, not

only was I out of touch with what work was available within my field, but I also lacked many

employable skills. While I was trained as a traditional metalsmith, my program failed to keep up

with the technologies that the rest of the field had adapted to. I did not know how to stone set,

how to cast at an industrial level or 3D model. My skill set limited me to the qualifications of a

bench jeweler, which not only guaranteed my fixation below the poverty line but eliminated my

opportunity for creative outlet since I would not be able to work on my own designs.

I decided to come back to school to earn my teaching accreditations and possibly take
some metals classes, I did not anticipate being able to learn all of the techniques that I had lacked

before. However, in the past semester I have learned how to 2D design for laser cutting, 3D

model and print, and use the Rhino software for planning. What visual technologies mean for me

are both obstacles and opportunities. The visual technologies linked to my field have been the

root of self-consciousness and doubt of my own abilities. While I am nowhere near a master of

the technology, the freedom that learning basic digital modeling skills has brought me is truly

empowering. Three months of schooling has inspired new forms and mechanisms within my own

practice and has made me a much more valuable artist. I do not think technology is a

replacement for hand skills and traditional techniques, but having the option to use technology as

a tool is an invaluable resource.


Freedman, K. (2003). Art and Cognition. In Teaching visual culture: Curriculum, aesthetics and

the social life of art (pp. 64-85). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Title: Chapter 8: in Teaching Visual Culture

Author(s): Kerry Freedman

Source/Date: 2003

Main Idea/Purpose (2-3 sentences):

Artmaking is a dynamic process that is impacted by variables such as social and cultural

shifts, innate ability and the experiences and histories its participants. The complex nature of

artmaking, then, deems standardized assessment methods unsuitable as a means of evaluating the

progress of art students.. Rather, art educators should use a variety of assessment methods and

adapt them based on the goals and needs of her specific class.

Short Overview (Including at least 2-3 important quotes):

Artmaking is a not analysis, making, interpretation, research, communication, community

building, responsiveness, or politics acting independently from each other, but a complex

amalgamation of these parts. Freedman (2003) explains that the studio setting is a physical

manifestation of these moving parts, acting as, “The foundation of a learning community and a

socially interactive environment that involves individuals and groups in viewing, discussing,

analyzing, debating, and making art” (Freedman, 2003, p. 147). This collaborative setting

encourages imagination, creativity, risk taking, and critical analysis. However, the testing

parameters encouraged by Western education are based on scientific rhetoric, which is

counterproductive to the creative process as it limits the conditions by which art learning can be

“Scientific an element of certain professional discourses, including

educational discourse, that exemplifies some common beliefs about the structure, applicability,

and certainty of science” (Freedman, 2003, p. 148). While assessment based on scientific

rhetoric is more easily measured, it is oftentimes an inauthentic form of testing. Instead,

Freedman suggests that assessment procedures applied to visual arts should, “include

observations, clinical interviews, reflective journals, projects, demonstrations, collections of

students’ work, and students’ self-evaluations” (Freedman, 2003, p. 150). In other words,

assessment of art learning should include both formative and summative assessments.

In addition to textual and numerical assessment and non-traditional assessment models

such as portfolios, students can also develop insight and perspective through critique.

Critique is valuable because it fosters an environment where students can practice skills of

critical analysis, but it also tells the makers that their message is important and that they can

communicate critical messages through artmaking. Freedman suggests that students pair critique

with reflection, stating, “When students make artistic images and objects, they should articulate

related concepts and skills, state reasons for their decisions, and explain what they believe to be

successful or unsuccessful about the work” (Freedman, 2003, p. 154).

Group, peer to pair, and individual critiques have proven to be so valuable that other

disciplines have adopted the model. Freedman explains that critiques “Have held opportunities

for assessing complex, higher-order types of learning to which conventional testing cannot

provide access, such as imagination, critical thinking, and problem solving” (Freedman, 2003, p.

157). The adaptation of art methods in non-art disciplines speaks to the increased importance on

social interaction to learning and acknowledges that learning can be achieved through many
different models.

Critical Response: Reflections and/or relevance to personal art educational experiences/or

teaching experience

Freedman introduces critique as a method of analysis and group learning, but critique is

not a method that comes easily to most students. It is important for art educators to lay a

foundation of what a critique is and isn’t, its goals and objectives, how it is facilitated and how to

participate. I have attended many critiques gone wrong, in many different capacities. I am

hopeful that these experiences will guide me towards conducting more successful critiques in my

own future classroom. For example, students often sniff out the weakest link and prey upon the

shortcomings of that student’s work. Conversely, I have been present in critiques where the artist

clearly did not put much effort into their artwork, but were able to fabricate a convincing

justification so that the other students in the class mirrored his faux enthusiasm.

In my metals critique this semester, my professor wrote a few phrases on the chalkboard

that have curbed the temptation to digress into unproductive directions. He wrote,

“Critiqueàcritical,” and explained that critique is used to analyze and evaluate a work of art.

The goal of a critique is to draw attention to successes and areas that can be improved, provide

suggestions of what improvements might be effective. They also catalyze group discussion and

help the artist unpack their concept, stimulating conversation surrounding the artist’s intended

message and the best methods of communicating it.

Under “critique,” Professor Obermeier wrote, “No: this reminds me of, that’s cool, I like

it, it looks like.” Critiques reflective in nature, but the goal is to uncover new insight, not to

compliment aesthetic qualities or make visual connections, unless of course these are
constructive to the evolution of the message. Critiques are extremely valuable, but a constructive

critique is dependent on the accountability demanded of its participants, the preparedness and

motivation of its leader, and the willingness of the class work together to elevate each other’s



Freedman, K. (2003). Art and Cognition. In Teaching visual culture: Curriculum, aesthetics and

the social life of art (pp. 64-85). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.