K. Douglas 2019
At the 2015 NAEA National Convention in Chicago, Nan Hathaway presented a concept she described as the "art trap." Nan's idea took many TAB art teacher's breath away. I know it did mine. The art trap is a method of gaining a reluctant student's consent to participate freely in an art activity or in the creative process.
The art trap is a way of providing students with fail-safe creative learning activity that has a high probability of enjoyment and success.
As Diane Jaquith explains, "An art trap is a simple provocation, something unusual and unexpected set up in an area where students will happen upon it and choose to engage or not engage."
One of our favorite art traps at New Palestine High School is the "sacred square." I will have introduced the concept of symmetry and the square as a structure to facilitate symmetrical mark making in a previous lesson, however, I will not impede students desire to utilize asymmetry or other design concepts if they so choose. Our favorite material for this art trap? Cardboard.
|This student chose to experiment with value, space and form.|
|After making one sacred square, this elevated her practice, wanting to create many, many more. Her work figured significantly in the completion of the wall pieces as she gained confidence in her abilities to initiate art.|
|If six squares look good together, what would happen with 36? Now we begin to play with the concept of emergence.|
|The painted cardboard squares look great hung as 2-D images grouped together. What would happen if we used the square as a sculptural module?|
|These modules will look better if they are connected systematically.|
|With direct instruction, students can help glue the modules together.|
|There are other configurations we can explore.|
|The more we build, the more students want to paint squares.|
|Another view of two sculptures made entirely of scrap cardboard squares painted by students.|
What else could emerge from a TAB laboratory of learning? Are outcomes fixed in a TAB classroom? How did the concept of emergence figure into this kind of activity?