A Statement of Artistic Intent is like a thesis statement for an artwork. It describes "the what," "they why," and "the how" behind the intention to make an artwork. I first encountered this term when teaching MYP (IB Middle Years Program) and saw the power it had to focus students thinking and discussion about their artwork.
In the MYP, we used the statement to guide discussion about an artwork; it was something both the teacher and student could refer to in order to guide our discussion. When students reflected on their completed artworks, it was a concrete statement that they could evaluate their final work against. I found it particularly useful when discussing work that has drifted quite far from the original intent--we could then discuss this drift and examine whether the direction of the work needs to change or if the statement needed to be revised to reflect this new direction.
This year in the PYP program I've begun introducing students in all grades to Statements of Artistic Intent. The statements are being used in a variety of ways by both me and the students to guide our inquiry.
There are a number of advantages to using a statement of artistic intent:
- Common statement to guide teacher-student discussion about a work in progress
- Integrate language into the visual arts curriculum in a meaningful way
- Reinforce specific vocabulary
- Develop students' ability to communicate about their artwork
- Provide a continuous reference point for creating and reflecting on an artwork
We use simple Bullseye Planning Routines to generate vocabulary, concepts, and ideas. From the Bullseye, we create simple sentences that become the Statement of Artistic Intent.
For example, a Grade 2 student's abstract watercolor project might be guided by the following statement:
I will create a watercolor painting using cool colors and organic shapes. I want the audience to feel relaxed when they look at my painting.
A Grade 5 student's paper collage artwork based on botanical art and the central idea of "The natural world inspires and challenges artists" might have the following:
I will create a paper collage artwork about the cactus. I want my audience to understand that the cactus is a beautiful plant and that we should appreciate how it can survive in hot and dry habitats. Using the Principle of Symmetrical Balance, I will communicate how beautiful the cactus is. I will use the Elements of shape to show the different kinds of cacti. My color scheme will use warm analogous colors to communicate information about its hot habitat.
I'm finding that these statements allow students to more clearly describe their intent and in particular, help them develop reflect upon their work and working process. This simple little tool is proving to be very valuable in the assessment for, as, and of learning.