This month’s faculty highlight is Christina Vogel, Assistant Professor of Art, Painting and Drawing. Professor Vogel received a grant for the Spring 2014 semester to support an experiential learning project for her upper division Drawing VI class (ART4060). Drawing VI is the most advanced level class for drawing, and is a requirement for students who are in the BFA painting and drawing program. Juniors and Seniors in the BFA program are much more focused on self-directed work as opposed to their previous years. Spring 2014 marked Professor Vogel’s first time teaching ART4060, and her focus was to maintain students’ self-directed work while also challenging them to critically collaborate and develop a group exhibition of their work at the Association for Visual Arts (AVA) gallery in Chattanooga. While the exhibition of student work was one of the focal points of the course, Professor Vogel aimed to give her students a real world experience of the multiple steps that go into putting together an exhibit. To support the costs of such a large undertaking, she requested a grant from ThinkAchieve.
Professor Vogel began thinking about the idea of raising the bar for her class and giving them a professional experience in the fall. She met with Lauren Goforth, the education and exhibitions director at AVA to discuss the project. Lauren was surprised to find out that most students had not previously had an opportunity to display their work at an off campus gallery before, and was excited about the idea. The opportunity would be an invaluable real world experience, and would also require students to utilize critical thinking skills.
One of the great things about this project was the challenge presented when you take a group of nine artists whose work is very different and ask them to come up with a single theme for a group show. Students collaborated and came up with the theme of memory. With such a broad theme, students were able to keep their individual projects unique, and yet still develop a cohesive group exhibition.
After coming up with a theme, the students were responsible for the whole project. Professor Vogel was available as a guide, but ultimately the students had to make decisions together as a group. This collaboration was a major piece of the class. Students had to meet as a group regularly to decide among other things how to promote the show through exhibition cards and social media, determine the order and best layout of the exhibition space provided by AVA, decide on the details regarding the sale of their work , and develop individual artist and group statements . All of these tasks were activities that they had not previously had to do, and probably had not thought about. These responsibilities were in addition to creating the artwork, and 3 other major projects due in the class.
Another major feature of the class was critical reflection that students completed before, during, and after the exhibition process. Students came to hang and ready their design space for the exhibition in August, long after the spring semester. The exhibition had a wonderful turn out, community feedback was excellent, and it culminated with a favorable review in The Pulse.
Though Professor Vogel is not teaching Drawing VI this year, she strongly believes that it is not a stretch for other art classes to be compatible with the ThinkAchieve Initiative. She says “So much of what we do as artists involves critical thinking. We constantly have to give feedback, self-assess, and collaborate. Which are all part of the ThinkAchieve Initiative.”