The Artist: Three Constructs

What differentiates the artists from others? Emily Pringle in a chapter in the 2011 Researching Creative Learning book maintains that visual artists are recognized for making contributions to creative learning. Artists talk about the importance of learning through doing and how their knowledge is gained through practice. There is a consensus that the work of artists in schools and higher education enhances the quality of school life. But how are the artists defined? According to Pringle, the construct of an artist is defined by three models:

1. Artist as uniquely inspired individuals—the seductive “Creative Genius” with innate gifts and talents. The artist who has the ability to engage with their chosen medium with a particular meaning. The artist work has the potential to challenges current structures and ways of thinking which reflects and contributes to meaning making.

2. Artist as craftsperson or designer—the artist as artisan, known for her/his technical prowess. Here individual expression is inextricably linked to art-form skill with knowledge acquired through experience of making. The knowledge of practical art making, enables her/him to express their ideas and thus teach.

3. Artist as collaborator or facilitator—a construction of the socially engage artist, in terms of their relations with, and responsibility towards others. In fact some scholars argue that anyone in a socially engaged practice have the overall responsibility to educate (see Walter Benjamin’s text, “The author as producer”). Pringle suggests that artists’ expertise facilitates and enables others’ creativity.

In summary, artists working in education can be portrayed as technician or craftspeople whose role is to support the curriculum by teaching specific skills. But also, to be an artist implies to remain open, and to explore research methodologies that enables her/him to interrogate and cultivate collaboration.

I would love to hear from you on What Does it Mean To Be An Artist!

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