Saturday, December 6, 2014


Try beginning your theme curriculum with a related Surrealist Play activity.

There can be many approaches to 
Playing in the Art Classroom Studio,
Be careful not to turn Play into an Exercise 
by saying "You MUST do this or that...."
"I'm going to ASSESS this or that...."
The only criterion is BECOMING ABSORBED.

Here's your SLO:
Student will be able to shift from ordinary consciousness to engaged, focused, purposeful experimentation materials, words and ideas.

For many years, the first class of every Spiral Workshop season was devoted to Surrealist play. Often the activities (both image and text based) were designed to relate to the theme/media of the group.

Playing, Creativity, Possibility 
Playing, Creativity, Possibility by Olivia Gude

The article (click link above) includes lots of examples of playful curriculum based on actual documented activities that the actual Surrealists used to "unleash the unbridled imagination." They didn't just sit around trying to "think of things that don't go together." They played together.

I didn't make an a priori decision to begin Spiral Workshop courses with Play. 
We tried some Surrealist activities one year and noticed that:

  1. A number of students found it very difficult in the beginning, but later "warmed to the activity." 
  2. The activities seemed to generate a relaxed experimental climate. 
  3. The process created a shared vocabulary for the students and teachers to talk about experimentation, process, and risk taking. 

On the Spiral Workshop NAEA Digication ePortfolio there are examples of the theme-based curriculum of over a dozen Spiral groups. Each curriculum begins with some variation of Surrealist play activities. Here's the link:
Spiral Workshop Theme Groups

1 comment:

  1. Recently I've been contemplating the impact of the conceptual art movement on art education. It seems as though in the 1960's and 70's, there was a surge of thinking before acting or planning before acting (acting being the art-making). If this set a tone for artists and their approaches at the time in relationship to abstract expressionism, which triumphed "play", the awareness of both approaches became very useful to artists in art movements afterward.

    What I'm curious about is what the opposite of play would be and if it could be utilized in art-making, too. Also, are there boundaries between playing and not playing and how are they crossed? I'm reminded of Del Close's philosophy of improv, which was to "Follow the Fear", which I've included a link for below.