PBS Collection Spotlight: The Art Assignment
The Art Assignment (Grades 6-12)
Can you think outside the box? Join curator Sarah Green as she interviews some of today's most inspiring artists and offers a historical exploration behind their methods and techniques. This collection is no standard art history course!
Whether it’s transforming materials to help people look at the changing environment with new eyes, or taking classic artistic trends and adding a modern twist, The Art Assignment shows that true art can come in many shapes and sizes. This collection includes more than 50 videos of assignments for students, discussion guides surrounding art theory and movements, as well as trips to cities around the world showcasing their significant art scenes.
Assignments are a personal challenge from an artist using specific materials, a driving idea, or technique. Viewers on YouTube even send in their assignments and the hosts review some of the favorites that teachers can use as models for their students. The theory discussions, dubbed “The Case for…” tackle contentious topics in the art world, like the value of Warhol’s pop art to the idea behind minimalism. These videos could act as excellent jumping off points for class discussions or explorations of specific movements, periods, or artists. Additionally, The Art Assignment features seven videos explaining everything from how to critique art as well as how to negotiate the common sticking point about how “my kid could make that.”
As the collection is intended for older audiences, it would not be advisable to use these videos with elementary school students. To that end, the hosts assume that viewers have a foundational understanding of the elements of art, major movements and periods, as well as some of the most famous names in art history. Middle school is the starting point because the assignments can definitely be used in those classrooms, but some of the discussions might be best left to high school and even advanced-level students due to the depth of content and the sensitive nature of some of the topics. These videos are also available on YouTube.