Authentic Art vs. Exercises

on November 4, 2015
In a quote from ‘The Art of Education’, Authentic art is work created and planned by the student to express ideas that are personal and meaningful. It’s what all the historically important artists we admire did and what visionary contemporary artists continue to do today. 
You might think that all art done by children in art class is authentic art or you might think all of their work is exercises.  The ‘Art of Education’ explains the difference this way:

Authentic art is about meaning and creative thinking; exercises are about replication or building skills. One isn’t better than the other, they are just different aspects of learning and understanding visual arts content. Exercises are important for developing aptitude with media and technique while authentic art experiences are essential for teaching creative thinking. Creating authentic art also provides opportunities to apply skills learned in exercises. We can draw a comparison to the act of learning vocabulary versus writing an essay. Students need both types of activities to fully learn about making art.

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I am using both types of art learning in class this year.  Most of time students are making authentic art, but every few weeks I present an exercise for them to learn.  I also do a 5 minute mini lesson every week to enhance what we are learning.  Students seem to genuinely be enjoying their increased choice this year and I’m happy to say are producing some quality work.