2. Is emphasis on content and finding personal voice important?

Home Forums Dialogue Portal Dialogue Portal: Part I 2. Is emphasis on content and finding personal voice important?

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    Paige Lunde

    Indeed, there is a lack of emphasis in the arts on personal expression, largely because of a shift toward standardization over the last 15 years. The problem with standardization is the belief that conceptual ideas should be fixed. This results in limited, accepted approaches to solving problems. The standardization of knowledge allows easy assessment but directs students toward memorization and away from rigorous pedagogy. As a result of testing, visual arts courses become less important because they are outside of the testing loop. Thus, arts programs receive less money and less value from the school system. Yet, a key component of art in school is developing student voices. Content is important, but we need to realize the value of the image. In a Kantian sense, the image provides subjective freedom because it is not fixed and propels the subject into freedom through reflection. This freedom allows the student infinite interpretation and possibility.

    I think personal expression should be integrated into the studio art program and there’s no reason it can’t be included. For example, my students learn about the context of an artist’s personal vision and 10 new techniques for each project. Then, students create a practice artwork based on a theme. Finally, students pick 5 techniques to apply to their own personal design. Developing student voices should be at the forefront of arts education and doesn’t require a whole new system.

    Morisa Young

    Emphasizing content and finding a personal voice is important in art. They are both significant because they create a purpose for the artist. They both give something the viewers to look for and to appreciate. If Judy Chicago didn’t emphasize feminism, we would just look at her work and say, “What’s the point?” We wouldn’t appreciate her work as much as we, or at least I, do because we wouldn’t understand her reasons for her artwork. Also, Judy Chicago’s voice in her work is important because it adds to her purpose. Her point in being a feminist is brought out in her pieces. She uses topics about women that make the general public uncomfortable. For example, the piece The Menstruation Bathroom makes society uncomfortable because it focuses on women’s periods. It is almost a taboo of a topic that is emphasized in this piece to create a point; that people shouldn’t be uncomfortable about something that happens naturally in women. With this content emphasized, and her voice about feminism being tied in, attention is drawn to not only this piece but pretty much all of her work. It makes us looks at certain aspects in our lives in a slightly different way, and makes us appreciate her artwork more. Her work makes us think about they ways things are in society, which is why emphasizing content and finding a personal voice in art is critical.


    Marcela Velasquez
    There tends to be lack of voice when coming to see the emphasis in content. When people talk more about the content and describe the history, origin and time they mislead their voice and the personal touch there needs to be added to the whole piece. In my opinion, there should always be 50/50 because that way the reader learns about the content and at the same time find the personal touch of the writer.


    Each person is blessed with their own thoughts, actions, and opinions. Putting that voice and opinions into action is so important in expressing your thoughts. Sitting back and letting others be in control of what goes on in your life, directly or indirectly, is no way to go through life. I was taught to share what was on my mind and never hold anything back. Some know how to take that and others do not. Expressing your true thoughts, or “not having a filter”, is an amazing thing. Having a personal voice and direct say on the events in your life is crucial. You have the power to control your future. By standing up for what you believe in or just saying what’s on your mind gives you that much more control over the outcome. Be your own advocate.

    Brooke Burkhart

    I think emphasis on content and finding personal voice is one of the most important things in art. Having a personal voice can completely change an artist and their content. You’re not just creating art; you’re creating art with a purpose.
    It really grabbed my attention hearing Judy Chicago’s step forward to being a feminist artist and so strongly advocating for feminism. Finding her personal voice not only changed her as an artist but it pushed her to help and support other women as well. Finding your personal voice can have so much power behind it. Power that might initially be negative can also be transformed into a power that drives you. Your power can also inspire others and maybe help other artists find their voice. Judy Chicago had such an impact on so many artists and other individuals, including myself. I have a new outlook on creating art. Taking my work one step at a time.


    In one word, absolutely.

    What is art, teaching, pedagogy, anything without content? Without a meaning behind it? Content is the core of creating. If there were no content there would be no creation. An emphasis on content is necessary for art to 1) be created in the first place 2) be something that is both enjoyable and teachable. The pedagogical aspect of creation and art is derived from content. Pedagogy requires content. Content is required for the realm of art education to even exist, let alone any type of education.

    Every piece of art ever created means something different to every person who sees or experiences it. Emphasis on personal voice is crucial, because without it, what is art ever going to be besides something nice to look at? Perception is unique to each person, and emphasis on learning personal voice on the receiving end will eventually develop into a personal voice on the creating end. If personal voices in the artistic world didn’t exist, all art would be the same, uninteresting things. Emphasis on a personal voice for each student and each artist invites an individualistic pedagogical approach, whereas content is a more group based educational experience. Both are crucial and deserve emphasis in the conversation of art education.


    I do believe that content is extremely important to emphasize with art students. Technical skill is important to the artist, but a technically sound artist with nothing to say does no good. I teach at the middle level and many of my students aren’t sure what art is for. Encouraging them to say what they want with art is something I work to improve of myself. In order for students to get in touch with their artistic identity I think it is important to start at a young age. As mentioned in Institutional Time, the circle talk and regular dialogue about student’s ideas is important to help them develop their ideas into developed works of art. One way this could be done in schools is to inquire with students. Ask what they think and encourage them to own their ideas and their works. Skills will develop with practice, but so to does the skill to create content need to be developed.

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