Spring SAVY 2018, Day 5- Truth vs. Perception (5th/6th)
In Week 5, we moved on from our discussion of texts and stories to look at truths and perceptions as they relate to visual aspects. We began by discussing the visual arts in relationship to everyday objects and postmodern art. We started by asking: what counts as art? Who gets to make that decision? The conversation surrounding these questions was robust, defining art either as: something that was created by a human that evokes emotion or inspiration in other humans, or that there are no qualifications and anything can be art–natural or manmade.
We further defined art by looking at its etymology from the word “ars” which means anything created for or by humans. Focusing on the idea of “form over function”, we looked at samples from artists such as Frank Lloyd Wright, George Ohr, Frank Gehry, and Bruno Munari, and discussed their ‘value’. We culminated this discussion in an activity where students had to write a sales pitch for a everyday object as though it was a piece of fine art, perceiving it as art and highlighting previously unseen elements of the item.
The second piece of the class focused on propaganda. We began by defining propaganda (elements used deliberately to help or harm a person or group), and discussing the question of whether the distorted truth is still the truth. After giving a brief context of World War II, we looked at some propaganda posters from this period and discussed the biases at play, the author’s purpose, the intended audience, and the ‘truths’ to be gained from their work. After a heated conversation about the symbolic nature of some of the pieces (students getting very tenderly upset that world leaders would try to convince people that populations with different beliefs are evil solely because they are different), the students worked on making their own positive propaganda about a cause they support or a person they admire.
This conversation was linked to the themes that perception can lead to assumption, and there are consequences to believing perceptions without first testing them for truth. Next week we will be revisiting the propaganda project and discussion will culminate in asking students to think about how they perceive the world around them, with the emphasis on understanding empathy.