Sculpture Course

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Metaphor Log and Artmaking Process Blog

In her article “Connecting Art, Learning, and Creativity: A Case for Curriculum Integration” Julia Marshall delves into the importance of metaphors. She proposes a strategy for teaching art through “substantive integration.” Substantive integration attempts to move beyond “issues-based art education” to reveal the “conceptual connections that underlie art and other disciplines.” She points out that making connections is essential to all learning and understanding and is a “key factor in transfer–the ability to extend what has been learned in one context to new contexts.” Referencing George Lakoff’s definition of metaphor as a “cross-domain mapping in the conceptual system,” Marshall argues that “the mind, in organizing phenomena into categories, thinks analogously; it sees something in terms of something else.” Moreover, she says:

Metaphors begin with analogous thinking when one thing is compared to another. An analogy then serves as a basis for projection, where one thing is seen in terms of another. In metaphor, however, there is not complete accord between the two compared entities. The discord between the two entities challenges the mind to re-conceptualize the original entity and see it differently … dissonance of metaphor shocks us into new analogies.

Like language, visually engaging metaphors created by the artist can play an important role in our understanding of reality. The power of metaphors to convey relevant truths about our postmodern condition lies in their ability to accommodate multiple interpretations.  They not only reinforce the idea that there are no fixed universal truths but also help us to make sense of this fact.

As a way to begin to understand the nature of vision by comparing it to language, I will require students to keep a metaphor log.  On the first day of class, I will have the sculpture students create a blog that will be used to organize and synthesize their thoughts as they construct their definition of art through the artmaking process. In her article, Marshall brilliantly makes the connection between art and science through an analogy between the artmaking process and developing a scientific theory. Like a scientific hypothesis, the “art image” illustrates the artist’s “theory of reality.” Moreover she goes on to say:

Artists are theorists; they question, observe, analyze, synthesize, and hypothesize as scientists do and shape thought into conceptual images, which are often metaphorical … art images manifest an individual artist’s hypothesis or interpretations of reality that resonate with others.

I intend to introduce the blog to students as a method of documenting their artmaking process and developing their hypothesis of the meaning of art. I will ask them to begin by entering their current definition of art/sculpture into their blog/journal on the first day. As the class proceeds, I will ask them to continually reflect and update their “hypothesis” throughout the class.

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