I bet you never would have pieced those two topics together. Art and philosophy actually do go hand in hand. Philosophy can loosely be defined as a critical study into the truths of a topic, or inquiry into a puzzling concept– a search for meaning.
In my classroom and many others, when we discuss our art works and talk about the masters, we are actually incorporating deep philosophical thought about aesthetics (beauty) and what the meaning of art is. Questions arise that center around art and life. Discussions are raised on whether or not something is art. Students are able to bring judgments upon a masterpiece and develop their own opinions on the matter; all the while using art terminology and critical thinking skills.
A philosophical discussion in the art classroom will usually begin with a work of art. We will discuss what we see first (using art vocabulary and descriptive words), then the artist who made it and the time period it was made. Slowly we move into the philosophical aspects. What do we feel about what is happening in the art? Is this considered art? Why is it art? Is there a statement being made by the artist? Many interesting conversations and ethical discussions are brought into the conversation now. Students tend to change their mind about the piece, or relate a part of their life to it. The final stage is our final opinion. This is their final judgment. Do you like the work? Their final thoughts are made and sometimes they have changed through the process.
My goal is for children to look at the world and wonder. They should inquire about why something is the way it is. Children should be able to clarify why they have come to a certain conclusion and give well thought out responses to questions. Most importantly, my goal is for our students to be able to listen to each others perspectives with an open mind. I love that we are able to use art history in the classroom not only for their art projects and skill building activities, but also as a place to share ideas and think beyond what is right in front of them.
If you would like to continue to build on deep thinking and philosophical inquiry at home, here is a great website from NJ’s very own Montclair State University: http://cehs.montclair.edu/academic/iapc/whatis.shtml. They hold classes as well to help children build on philosophical thought and reasoning. What a wonderful way to bridge art and philosophy!
*Artsylori; Elementary School Educator