Rough Draft: at least 2 pages (for full participation points)
Final Draft: at least 3 pages, typed, double-spaced, one-inch margins, edited, MLA style…
Defining and Analyzing “Art”
How would you define Art? What should it look like? What should it do, in your opinion? Ultimately, what is Art to YOU? There are, of course, endless answers to these questions. Largely through subjective means (though oftentimes within the illusion of objectivity), artists and art critics and art historians and everyday art-lovers have defined art manymanymany different ways, each definition true in its own way… But that’s sort of the point here: Art is whatever you want to make of it. So, what makes something YOUR KIND of “Art”? And what does your taste in “Art” reveal about you?
So, here’s your assignment, in a nutshell: Write an essay in which you define “Art,” in your opinion; then, describe and analyze something that you consider to be “Art,” according to your definition. Why do YOU think it’s Art? And, perhaps, what does your taste in Art reveal about you, specifically? You can pick just about anything, really (except maybe not a movie or a song or a photo of yourself, since we’ve already done all that)—but I want it to be something woman- or man-made and something relatively recent, created in the last 20 years.
Some other requirements:
In the process of defining “Art,” you do not have to do any research, but if you do, make sure to CITE source/s. Otherwise, this definition can be completely your own—though you might want to make it interesting, and make sure it will lead you to an interesting analysis of your chosen artwork. At any rate, you’ll want to identify one particular definition (it might have several parts to it, but try to make sure they connect together nicely), a definition that is focused (it will be a mistake to make your definition too broad).
Here’s the interesting part. By “artwork” I mean just about anything created by a human being that can arguably be called “art.” This would include traditional artwork, like paintings, drawings, sculptures, and photographs, but also non-traditional artworks, like buildings or live performances or video games or a graphic novel or fashion or even a product of some sort (the iPod or a specific car design). I would like the focus to be on something visual, though (i.e., not a song or a book—unless there’s a visual aspect to it, like a music video or a comic book).
The work should be no more than 25 years old—I don’t want you to pick something really obvious, in other words. No Picassos or Van Goghs or Andy Warhols—pick something different, maybe even unusual, perhaps even something you think is underappreciated or VERY personal to YOUR tastes.
Purpose/Audience: Your goal is to give your readers a clear, interesting, and credible definition of art (you may use a source/s, but be sure to cite it; or you may use your own personal definition… though I’d avoid dictionary definitions, if I were you). Then, prove to readers that the work is “Art,” according to your definition. Your ultimate purpose might be to get us to see art differently (to see art in the everyday world around us), to understand the importance of art in general (or lack thereof), to give us insight about a particular artwork or artist that you think might be important, or to relay some important idea or issue that the artwork addresses that we can all learn from… As usual, try to see beyond the basic parameters of the assignment—to have a real purpose for writing this essay. And, above all, make it interesting!
On this essay, you’ll be working on the following skills:
constructing a unified, focused argument/thesis;
developing a coherent, interesting definition of “Art”;
describing your artwork and applying your definition to a focused analysis of the artwork;
finding a purpose for writing about your particular work of “Art”;
and, finally (as usual), organizing your essay in a logical manner and editing carefully for grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
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