I have been teaching art appreciation for years in a college in California, and thoroughly enjoy the students and class content. The first art appreciation book I used was handed to me by the instructor taking emergency leave right before the semester started. I had free reign to design the class structure, content and assessments as long as I used the textbook. The book was set up in the traditional style, covering the elements and principles of design for the first eight weeks and then switching to cave art through modern art in the next eight weeks. As a teacher, fresh out of graduate school, I followed the same patterns I learned from my instructors.
After a few weeks, the textbook wasn’t working for me. I know the students had a hard time following the layout of the book and understanding the content. I changed books the next semester, and it was somewhat better, but the connection between the art and the student was still missing. I started to form an idea about how a textbook should be designed and convinced a publisher to try a new concept in Art Appreciation/History textbooks.
Art is everywhere you look, everything you wear, and art is the beauty. Just look around…
This art appreciation book was written by designing an innovative, interactive, and interdisciplinary textbook covering the cultural arts in the world. The book covers the creation and use of art by civilizations from 45,000BCE though the 2000’s CE. Art methods, elements, and styles are covered in the context of the lives of people through time. Some of the artists will be familiar and some you will never have heard of before. The inclusion of women, minorities, and cultures around the world broadens the world of art and all peoples impact on the art world.
How is this book constructed? How to create a college level art appreciation textbook that is interactive and less expensive? Some of the goals were:
- To develop a new alternative educational model for art appreciation textbook that increases the amount of information about women, minorities, and cultures around the world.
- To incorporate the use of technology to lower the overall cost. The price of all the textbooks every semester can be more than the cost of tuition in some community colleges. Textbooks can cost a student around $200 per class or $1000 a semester if they take a full five-unit class load.
- To build a textbook and create the pathways for students to discover art and culture written from a world perspective instead of an androcentrism approach. Androcentrism is an ancient Greek word meaning “man, male”, and according to Webster’s Dictionary, androcentrism is the tradition, cognizant or not, of placing male human beings or the masculine opinion at the center of one’s world view. Androcentrism also includes the man’s or male’s written the word of history and the cultures art.
- To be culturally responsible and write a textbook that allows the student population to connect their own cultures to what they are learning with new information. Art appreciation in the 21st century can no longer be written from the European, white male perspective.
While writing this textbook, we always kept our goal list handy, used it as a guide to construct every chapter, and wrote a book to engage students and learn to really appreciate art.
How This Book Is Laid Out…
This textbook is written in a format to make it easier for students to use, understand and appreciate art. Instead of writing a chapter about each civilization, we choose to lay out the book in time sequence so students can see and understand the overlap of multiple civilizations, how they interacted, traded and survived conflict. We also see how art changes when comparing civilizations or the natural resources one civilization might have access where another civilization does not have access. Does the other civilization compensate for the lack of natural resources?
We also can see the influence of civilizations and time on the art product. For example, silk was produced and woven in China, but how long did it take to spread across Asia and into Europe? The Silk Road was a commercial enterprise supporting the crossing and selling of art for thousands of miles and contributed influence over art. Today, the internet is our influence and we have access to billions of pictures on our computers. Research is faster and travels in light seconds, letting us see the rest of the world and their art.