Wednesday, October 31, 2012

But it's not perfect...or pretty...

I am currently really struggling with getting my students to understand that artwork doesn't always have to be pretty and perfect. It's ok for it to be organic and messy and have some character! I don't understand where this desire for perfection comes from. Is it just our district because these kids strive for perfection in everything they do? Or is it coming from their elementary art teachers? I just don't get it. 
So I ended up in a pickle this past weekend. Hurricane Sandy put a damper on our 8th grade DC trip so the trip was canceled and rescheduled in a few weeks. Great! I get my kids for an extra week this 6 weeks (when I thought I was only getting them for 5 weeks). However, last Friday, I made my ceramics class finish their projects so they could dry out during DC and they would be fired and ready to go when they came back on Monday. So now that they weren't going, what was I going to do with them for a whole week with only 2 weeks left in the 6 weeks. After collaborating with some other art teacher friends, I decided to do slab vessels...something like this...

 The kids seemed to like the idea so we started it on Monday. When construction started Tuesday, all I heard was, "mine is ugly"..."it doesn't sit straight"..."I hate mine". After inquiring as to why they hated it, I found out it was because they weren't perfect. The slabs overlapped and slumped a bit. But it gave it so much character! I actually like those so much better than the ones that were stacked right on top of itself. Here are some of them in progress...

Do you have problems with kids not liking their artwork because it's not perfect? Do you embrace the quirkiness and character in artwork? How do you address this in your class?

Update 11/30/12
My new ceramics class has been making the slab wrap vases. They don't seem to hate them as much as last 6 weeks. This project has replaced the coil bowls since I decided that the kids don't learn anything making the coil bowls. With those bowls, they didn't have to roll their own coils or score and slip so all it did was make pretty artwork. With this project, they had to roll a slab, score and slip and improve craftsmanship. I think they were really successful this time! Here is what they have done so far.


  1. i also am auditing a pottery class, and like ur class think my work is ugly..and im 62. but at the same time im drawn to the beauty of being different..of being unique, and original...i Really love these, plus looking at their work ..teaches me! thanks for posting

  2. I have been handbuilding as a hobby for several years and it is a familiar theme in our studio for people to express their hatred for their own work while others of us can't understand why. I have even seen people rescue pieces from the trash that the artist has discarded. We are our own worst critics!

  3. I have also been handbuilding as a hobby for quite some time now. However, it has escalated into more than a hobby. I love these pots and I completely understand what you are saying about uniqueness and expressing your creative side though a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork. It took me a while to get it, but now I do. And, it is so much more enjoyable to not inhibit my creativity by worrying about what someone else will think or say about my work. The pieces I doubt are the ones that people seem to like. So, go for it and enjoy being expressive and creative.