Mathilde Roussel is a visual artist who works with organic matter as her medium. This is what attracts me to her work – I am attracted to organic and natural forms and use them in my work. In her piece Echology, Roussel contains dew, almond milk, pollen, sap, driftwood, wheatgrass, and bark in etched glass jars. The jars are then labeled with the words “tears,” “milk,” “sperm,” “blood,” “bones,” “hair,” and “skin.” This specific piece shows Roussel’s research of relating nature to humans. Her artist statement on her website even states “Mathilde Roussel’s work is a sensible and symbolic research about the nature of physical life.” In my personal experience, working with living material is a learning process. Due to the delicate nature of some plants, knowing how to care for them is crucial. As I care for the plants, I am gaining knowledge about them, which is adding information to my visual research.
“As a form of human expression, an artwork can be considered to be a site where knowledge is created and meanings are made. Research about works of art communicate new insights into how objects carry meaning about ideas, themes, and issues (Sullivan, p. 71).” As a viewer, I have a new insight to these natural objects in Roussel’s Echology. For example, if she had not made the connection between dew (a natural object) and tears (a human trait), I would not have thought about what the relationship between those things is. The meanings and insights Roussel extrapolates from her visual research are extremely similar to those in my own work.
Roussel’s work shows how art can be incorporated with other subjects in school, such as biology. As a future art educator, I might have my students observe and draw live flowers and at the same time have them labeling each part of the flower, encouraging them to discover what each part functions as. “The artist is the key figure in the creation of new insights and awareness that has the potential to change the way we think. The studio experience is a form of intellectual and imaginative inquiry, and the studio is a site where research can be undertaken that is sufficiently robust to yield knowledge and understanding that is individually situated and socially and culturally relevant (Sullivan, p. 70).” By having students explore and examine an everyday object (such as a flower) in the art room gives them a chance to change the way they would normally look at and think about that object. In his book The Art and the Creation of Mind, Eisner states, “the curriculum is a mind-altering device (Eisner, p. 13).” This is a key concept for art educators to understand – we have the power to change and impact future students in a positive way. We can develop our lesson plans so that they foster autonomy and motivate students to do something great!
Eisner, E. W. (2002). The arts and the creation of mind. Harrisionburg, Virginia: R.R. Donnelley & Sons.
Sullivan, G. (2010). Art practice as research: inquiry in visual arts. (2nd ed., pp. 3-186). SAGE Publications, Inc.
La palabra alegría no se suele emplear mucho en el contexto de la educación, pero si las artes se refieren a lo que nos hacen sentir en su presencia cuando sabemos leer sus formas. Cuando experimentamos las artes en la plenitud de nuestra vida emocional, el propósito de las artes es que nos sintamos vivos.
Eisner, Elliot W., El arte y la creación de la mente: el papel de las artes visuales en la transformación de la conciencia; Barcelona, Editorial Paidós, 2004. Pág. 114.