Type of Culminating Activity

Graduate Student Project

Graduation Date


Degree Title

Master of Arts in Art Education



Major Advisor

Kathleen Keys


What constitutes a piece of artwork? Is it the subject matter, the idea, the meaning, or the way in which it is made that realizes its success? Or is it the mere fact that human beings created it with purpose? If two pieces of artwork address the same subject, can one be considered better or more compelling than the other? Is there even such a thing as “good art” as opposed to “poor art”, or is that a debate that can only be answered within a culture or time period? Can one really judge the value of art, or is the process of making art just the instinctive urge of mankind to make expressive marks? These questions have been the topic of debate for centuries, and will continue as a catalyst for discussion among artist for a long time to come. But, as a middle school art teacher, I must address the question asked by my students: “Ms. Chattin, is my art good?” The middle school student ranges in age from eleven to fourteen. This is a time of dramatic changes in the brain which brings an increased ability of the student to create more mature art. It is the age when the brain transforms from concrete thinking to abstract thinking and the young artist is no longer content to make expressive marks, but to arrange those marks in ways that bring meaning, beauty, and fun. Middle school students want their artwork to “look right” and they are highly critical of their performance. Those students who are more talented in either artistic ability and/or vision are respected and envied by their peers and will excel in their artistic endeavors if motivated to do so. However, public middle school art classes must create an atmosphere success for all students. I believe that the process of successful art making, art which the student can be proud of, should be available to all students, not just to those are talented. The knowledge and use of the principles of design is a starting point where students can successfully participate in personal art production. But it is only a starting point, not the goal of art education. It is a knowledge base which will help students make design decisions for the purpose of expressing and communicating personal feelings, ideas and concepts. Part of my job as an art educator is to direct my students in the basic understanding of the fundamentals of art in order that their finished product is not only self expressive, but satisfying to their eye. To accomplish this job I must teach the principles of design: concepts and terms that are often difficult for the middle school student to grasp. This thesis/project will address one of many ways to teach the principles of design, offering practical lesson plans which emphasize each one individually. The goal being: to ground students in knowledge about design so they may effectively communicate their artistic visions.

Included in

Art Practice Commons