Remember always that you must be able to justify your conclusions by observations that can be checked by others. Avoid “reading into the picture” qualities which really come from your own attitudes, convictions or sympathies. Distinguish between the given “data” and your own associations. Consider alternate choices that the artist might have made and how these might have affected the character of the work.
Effective November 17th, 2016 Frances Fox Piven is now — “The Post-Election Curriculum Advisor” at Critical Theory and the Arts The department of Critical Theory and the Arts is more than delighted—more, in the sense that in the wake of the presidential […]
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Yaoi dojinshi are filled with thousands upon thousands of beautiful coupling male bodies. The interpreters of yaoi and boys' love are unanimous in their conclusion that the dojinshi narratives are not about gay relationships. Any interpretation of yaoi must begin with the premise that yaoi and boys' love graphic narratives are about females and, yes, about gender, identity, about the relationship of females to males, and perhaps about female/female relationships. The yaoi territory of the dojinshi subculture provides a site where females are free to experiment with the possibilities and the prospects for their own identities, to construct new notions of gender for themselves, and to rehearse potential romantic and sexual relationships. But these signs are signs of what? We must read even more deeply.
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Foucault (1984) viewed power in relationship to knowledge, seeing a mutually constituting relationship between power and knowledge. We may view art education curricula and instruction as well intentioned efforts by the educational establishment and art teachers to educate students through the processes of art-making and acquisition of knowledge relating to the history, philosophy, and interpretation of art and artworks. Encouraged by society, through our instruction we art teachers provide students with art knowledge assumed to contribute to their intellectual, social, cultural, and aesthetic wellbeing. Bourdieu would see art education as an effort to provide students with the advantages that come from possessing certain forms of educational and cultural capital (1984, pp. 53-54). The knowledge associated with cultural capital is, however, conveyed within formal contexts--school classrooms--where adults have enormous power over what students will "learn" about "art." Modernist art educators, for example, believe that students should learn to view artworks from the standpoint of formal qualities--the elements and principles of design--subject matter is of lesser importance. Early proponents of discipline-based art education saw art history, criticism, aesthetics, and art-production, not artworks, as the primary content of art education (Wilson, 1997b, pp. 88-89). Thus, formal art knowledge is formed within relationships where adult-sanctioned power is exercised. This knowledge, when willingly accepted by students, contributes to the development and proliferation of new power relationships--this is certainly the case when an art student is inspired by his or her teacher and subsequently succeeds, say, in having artworks purchased by a prestigious art museum. Students, however, do not always accept the art knowledge offered them by teachers. They may see it as irrelevant, as having little worth. While ignoring the content of formal art instruction, students may prize other forms of visual culture such as comics, anime, video games, and music videos, which are still denigrated by some art teachers.
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In the relationship between the school art curricula and the dojinshi subculture in Japan we have a paradigm case in which youth visual cultural power is in competition with the visual cultural power represented by the art curricula. (This situation, we might note, is not unique to Japan or to Asia.) It's not so much that these two forms of visual culture are in open conflict, rather they exist apart in separate territories within the vast visual cultural realm. Nevertheless, it is ironic, on the one hand, that teachers expend great effort to make art a part of students' lives, and yet we know virtually nothing about whether or not art instruction changes the lives of general education students. On the other hand, those same students, with little or no encouragement from adults--and frequently with adult disapproval, make dojinshi creation and consumption a central component of their lives. Is this a problem for art education? Should these two clusters of power within art education be treated as hopelessly antagonistic and irreconcilable?