Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Refrigerator Art?

I just found this post in my drafts... I started it at the end of March but it still has me wondering. 

On my way to the hotel for National Art Convention another of the van passengers started talk to me.  She made the comment about her son being involved in a program that teaches students how to make "ART, not refrigerator art."  The next day I sat in on a few sessions in which students were creating this wonderful projects that would take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to finish.

It really got me thinking about what I do with my students.  Are we creating images that will last forever (if only in my students hearts and minds) or are we creating things that are quickly thrown away?

As a parent I am learning that you CAN NOT keep every wonderful thing your child creates (I keep a lot of Jarrett's inside my cupboard doors or I photograph them and add them a photo album).  BUT I would like to think that my students love their stuff enough to want to keep it... and yet I have students every quarter/semester who say "Do I have to take this home?" or "Can't I just throw it away?"

So my questions are...

  • What if we did a lot of learning but only made 4-5 "Big" projects a year?  
  • What if a student disliked the big projects?  Would art be a bust for them?
  • What about art shows?  Only 4 projects doesn't give a teacher a lot of choices... but if each of the projects was individualized for each student wouldn't they look more unique?
  • How do you get all the mediums covered if they are only doing a few projects?
  • Do you throw in a few smaller projects?


  1. So many great questions that I feel like I am constantly struggling to answer too. I've been teaching part time for a few years and wish I had the answers. I agree though that I want my students to be proud of their work and that it shouldn't be cookie cutter, especially in middle school.

    1. It is a struggle... you know they still have so much to learn but you also want them to develop that personal sense of style. In my school I am the last required art class and I want them to have that LOVE of art that keeps them going. Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. I know that this is an old post, but i just found your blog and i thought i should respond. i hate the term "refrigerator art" if putting artwork on the fridge is bad. UGH. in my tiny house it is the ultimate shrine of preschool art (my kids are 1 and 3). They ASK to put it on the fridge, and then when it's ready to be replaced it is photographed and tossed or kept in his keepsake box. At this point, every project they do is valid...and of course being an art educator i feel that ALL projects are valid (even the cruddy ones!!!) so you can look back on it and learn from mistakes.

    you have inspired me to write my blog post for the month of september on our collaborative blog ( displaying artwork. as for answers, i really don't know what to tell you. i've done lessons that take forever (4-5 weeks) and others that are "instant gratification" type projects. i get mixed reviews from each. i do, however, notice that when students get frustrated on longer projects, they tend to stay frustrated for the duration. no amount of praise helps them overcome their frustrations.