Unteaching Art: When the Student is the Subject, Designer, Fabricator and Further Inspiration for Truly ‘Fine Art'

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Before they leave preschool, many students have already learned to draw people as stick figures, portraits as smiley faces, trees as lollipops, suns in corners, square houses with chimneys, fluffy sheep clouds, green grass, and blue skies – seemingly without being ‘taught’. But these clichés have been heartily reinforced by the accolades of teachers and parents. Is this ‘creative’ art or merely copying ‘symbolic visual language’? I suggest that it is possible to delve into as well as draw from a much deeper inventiveness - at every developmental level. Inspired by the artistic outcome of my recent PhD which stridently blurs the line between ‘School/Community Art’ and ‘Fine Art’, participants will 1) Creatively construct portraits; 2) See this innovative approach used in several short student-constructed DVD presentations and installations broaching Fine Art; 3) Discover how these student productions re-inspire the artist to generate actual Fine Art - which would not otherwise have materialized; 4) Debate whether it is possible to ‘unlearn’ artistic clichés and preconceived references of ‘the art process’; in particular, who is ‘learning art’ and who is ‘teaching art’ in the current climate of Praxis Inquiry and contemporary art practice.


Keywords: Art education, Art process, Clichés, Fine art
Stream: Art and Education
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: Unteaching Art


Dr. Flossie Peitsch

PhD candidate, Faculty of Arts
Education and Human Development
School of Education, Victoria University

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Flossie Peitsch completed her PhD at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, 2007, holding an Australian Postgraduate Award - a three year full-time scholarship. PhD Title is ‘THE IMMORTAL NOW: Visualizing the place Where Spirituality and Today’s Families Meet’. Her PhD, a Creative Thesis consisting of a visual art exhibition and exegesis, was staged in five (5) galleries concurrently in November 2006. She is an internationally known and collected installation artist, Canadian by birth. Peitsch’s Visual art practice includes tapestry, installation, watercolours, mixed media, tapestry, acrylic painting, sculpture; community/public art projects including Artist-in-Residencies, workshops.

Prof. Maureen Ryan

Professor, Faculty of Arts, Education and Human Development
School of Education, Victoria University

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Professor Maureen Ryan is Foundation Director, Office for Industry and
Community Engagement at Victoria University. She comes to this role after a
lengthy period as Head, School of Education at Victoria University and
various other positions at the University. Maureen is an experienced teacher
educator with broad interests in areas of youth, education and community.
Maureen is Chair of Western Edge Youth Arts Program and a member of the
Footscray Community Arts Centre Board.

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