EYEBALL IT!™ Approach to Visual Art Education:
When I began work on the program in 1992, I returned to elementary school art teaching, grades 1-6. I wanted to get my own feel for where kids were. To my great surprise, their whole way of thinking and imagining visually had been changed by their exposure to the pre-flattened world of television, video and computer screens. They required an entirely different approach than pre-screen kids.
Hence the projects were written to put children back in direct touch with the real three-dimensional world, and with their own imaginations rather than pre-packaged characters and limited scripts. Eyeball It!™’s approach is an outgrowth of my own studio practice over twenty (now thirty) years.
Two key messages are conveyed both verbally and non-verbally in the text and graphic design:
Hence nothing is slick. Everything feels like it's been done by hand – possibly even a child's. And everything is generous and expansive – size, color, humor, quality.
Eyeball It!™ has two primary goals. The first is FUN – specifically, the fun that comes from working directly with color, shapes and moldable materials, and from the surprises that happen as a piece of artwork spontaneously emerges. Directions are meant to quickly engage a child: "How am I going to do this?? I want to figure this out!!" Without fun, creativity and its habits don't grow.
The second is EDUCATION – to pick children up and put them down somewhere else in their thought processes. Eyeball It!™ encourages children to think three-dimensionally, to convert three dimensions to two on their own, to experiment confidently to solve artistic and practical problems, and to develop mental “muscle tone” and flexibility. Concepts are specifically designed to overlap with math, science, geography, sports and other subjects. The art builds on their knowledge of their world, their bodies, etc.
Eyeball It!™ is a product of my belief that children's intelligence grows in the act of doing – seeing, thinking and making art, all at the same time. The kind of visual and “physical” intelligence I'm trying to provoke in my students will have, I hope, a significant effect on (1) their ability to understand abstract and spatial concepts in math and science and (2) their ability to solve problems – both abstract and practical – creatively. Ideally, I want them to develop a flexible, confident visual intelligence – a joyful intelligence, as I see it – that revels in new challenges and experiences.