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  • Writer's pictureBonnie Lee

9 Different Ways to Become More Aware of the Arts

Gone are the days of studying from the textbooks. Although I haven't taken a standardized test in ages, having been a teacher made me a better student. Below are nine different ways I studied for the California Subject Examination for Teachers in Art. Regardless whether I passed the test, the process of preparation definitely helped me to become a better person, artist, and ultimately a better teacher.

1. Any episode from the series Art 21 from is an excellent source of information.

2. Tate Shots on Contemporary artists. My favorite is the one on William Kentridge. He stopped making art after college, because he thought he didn't have anything to say. I was encouraged by his life example, because being an artist is not always smooth sailing. The reality of life sets in. Despite it all, he resumed art making later on in a much more impactful way than his older work.

3. The Art Abstracts on Netflix helped me to look at other disciplines of art like theater design and architecture. It is helpful to revisit to see how the arts have always been interconnected.

Artwork by Henry Darger at LACMA

4. It was a treat to go to LACMA. My intention was to listen to the audio tours and see how other people talk about art. I came across great exhibitions like the self-taught artists exhibition. I was amazed to see the artwork by Henry Darger in person. He was a recluse self-taught artist who drew and painted on both sides of the newsprint. As a hospital janitor who collected everything from old glasses to coloring books, he spent a big chunk of his salary on art making, getting photocopy references which was very expensive back in the day.

5. The Broad Museum has a great app audio tour that guides us by providing background information/context with interesting details, so that viewers could have a better understanding of contemporary art.

6. Nothing can replace the richness of a book on art. My professor once shared with us: Although we could google just about any image, we will discover a multitude of images that could never be found elsewhere, if we venture to the library and open a book.

7. I love the Art Soup videos on Principles of Design, because the examples illustrate each principle in a fun and memorable way.

8. KQED has a series on elements of art that are brief and to the point. I wish I had seen these when I were in grades school. In fact, many of the questions on the CSET revolves around this area.

9. My favorite was a series of podcast/YouTube videos created by Jeanne Willette through Otis College of Design. She walks listeners through the history of art in an engaging way. I remember her as my teacher when I was in grad school many moons ago. At the time, I was quite young and didn't cherish school as much. As an older person, I come to enjoy her talks and wish I had paid more attention back then.

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