Art On Trial (A Mock-Court Activity)
Students engage in a mock trial to decide if a work of prospective public art is "art" and accepted for a city park. The goal of the lesson is to broaden students personal definitions of what art is; and to distinguish between an opinion about art and an informed judgment.
art, debate, aesthetic, court, trial, mock trial
You will need to have samples of works of art that students might debate. The lesson supplies links to some possible works of art. The following resources might also be useful in this lesson.
Many pieces of art, especially very public art, have caused stirs in the communities in which they appeared and, sometimes, in the art world in general. Thats because peoples perceptions of what "art" is can differ from community to community and person to person.
Before the Lesson
You might gather a variety of images (some suggestions appear below) and post them on separate sheets of chart paper. Display them around the room as a "gallery." These images will represent works of art that your students will consider for a public space in their own community.
Ask students to write their personal definition of what makes something a work of art. Collect the students definitions for use at the conclusion of lesson.
Display a reproduction or print of what you think might be a controversial artwork. The following links offer a few pieces of art that might be used for the purpose of this lesson.
Arrange students into small groups. Within each group, individual students might be assigned a specific role that represents the "eyes" through which that student must "judge" whether the proposed object is art and whether they agree that is should be purchased as a work of community art for their community. Possible roles include
As each group moves from image to image, they might write on the chart the results of their "group vote": Did they, or did they not, agree that the work of art might make an appropriate purchase for their community?
Once students have viewed the works of art and formulated their opinions, begin a class discussion of the art images. Talk about each object, its dimensions, what materials were used to create it, the techniques used to create it
At some point, lead a discussion about the difference between personal opinions and informed judgments about art -- and when both can or should be used. As students share opinions of the individual works, let others help the class discern which comments are opinions and which are "informed judgments" that can be substantiated with information.
You might take this lesson in a variety of different directions:
Discuss with students what they have learned about looking at artworks. You might ask
The next day, ask students to write another definition of what makes something a work of art. Hand back to them the definitions they wrote at the start of the lesson the day before. Have them compare their new definitions to the ones they wrote the day before. Conclude the lesson with a discussion about the differences they see in their definitions. At the end of the lesson, students might write a brief statement to explain how and why their definitions changed.
Students might also be asked to write the difference between an opinion and an informed judgment.
Submitted ByDiane Franken, Lincoln Academy of Integrated Arts in Davenport, Iowa
Copyright © 2007 Education World