To begin, let’s define both product and process art.
Process Based Art
Focuses on the experience of creating. Some characteristics of process art are:
No step-by-step instructions
No sample for children to follow
A variety of materials
Each finished piece is unique and one-of-a-kind
Q-Tip Fall Trees
Product Based Art
Focuses on the final finished work. Some characteristics of product art are:
There is a “right” and “wrong” way to create
There are set instructions to follow
An example is given to children
Every piece looks similar
While it is obvious the majority of the time art should be process based, where does art appreciation fit in? In order to study the works of great artists, students will need to be given samples of art to study and reflect on.
I challenge you to think of art instruction as a continuum.
On the one side there is complete process based art. This would be completely open-ended, and children would have access to whatever materials they desire. There would be no explicit instruction. This is what your art area in your classroom should look like.
On the other side there is complete product based art. This would be teachers telling students exactly how to create, with absolutely no individuality.
As students mature, there is room for some product based art. This doesn’t mean that they will be punching out carbon copies of the same thing. However, they can be challenged by only having access to certain materials for specific lessons. They can be shown an example of Michelangelo’s art and not be harmed. After all, who are we to deny children access to some of the most beautiful masterpieces? They deserve to enjoy them just as much as adults do.
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