We offer the Unpacking Unseen Artworks program for senior students to assist students in preparing for the HSC but the program assists students grow in confidence and reclaim the certainty of their youth in their encounters with contemporary art.
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he/she grows up.
This statement by Picasso can apply not only to art-making but to art viewing.
We all want our students to be confident and many start this way. One of the best aspects of my work at the MCA is engaging young students from stage 1, 2 and 3 with MCA artworks. Their uninhibited comments expressing viewpoints and opinions without fear of ‘the wrong answer’ or what others think, is delightful. However, many of these students somehow develop doubt as they move toward secondary school and beyond. This can often be observed in the uncertainty evidenced in Senior Visual Arts students preparing for Section I of the HSC Art Criticism and Art History paper. Our programs aim to remedy this concern. Like Picasso we want these students to remember the certainty of their youth.
We aim to build confidence in senior students who attend the Unpacking Unseen Artworks program. This is obviously somethings teachers do all the time in the classroom however nothing can replace the EXPERIENCE of an artwork. This whole program is held inside the galleries where we encourage the students to do the talking. With a few leading questions we aim for each student to support their comments, experience, response and observations with evidence from the art work. To keep exploring an idea and develop it more thoroughly. To go beyond mere description. To keep unpacking their ideas. To look at concepts, artists practice, to be aware of all five senses. To suck all meaning out of a label. To look. To talk. To debate.
One of the most rewarding aspects of facilitating this program is seeing students grow in confidence as they demonstrate that they can read a contemporary artwork, that they are better equipped than they realise. They gradually become empowered to bring their own independent ideas forward more confidently.
Many students benefit from the Unpacking Unseen Artworks program. They leave with a little more confidence than when they arrived and hopefully continue to build upon the experience throughout their lives. They reclaim the certainty of their youth.
Previous post: Rosie Deacon talks 'Koala Nutbush’
Next post: My Pretty Little Sydney: A Guide Inspired by Grayson Perry
Sue Salier has been an Artist Educator at the MCA since 2007. She has a degree in Education and an MA in Curatorship & Modern Art from Sydney University. In addition to her work at the MCA, and her own art practice, Sue also teaches Visual Arts part time in a local secondary School.