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Arts Toolkit

Arts Toolkit: Visual Arts Video Clips

Abstraction: Ideas/Process


This segment is the complete “Ideas/Process” section from the Looking at Painting program on “Abstraction.” The five featured artists talk with host Robert Tharsing about their various ways of approaching the genre and their work. First, painter Henry Chodkowski discusses the archetypal symbols he has researched and developed to produce a series of black and white paintings based on the mythical Labyrinth of ancient Crete. Then Sam Gilliam describes how he moved from the canvas into the open spaces above the conventional gallery, creating large works on the floor, draping them across ladders and other supports, and finally hanging them from the ceiling—creating large-scale commissions of vivid color, depth, and what he describes as “magic.” Next, Ivan Schieferdecker takes the viewer through the process he goes through in creating his abstract works, using color combinations, intense lines, and textures that represent natural elements to bring a serious depth to each canvas. Nancy Cassel and Gerald Ferstman also discuss further the methods they use, their usual choices of subject matter, and the ideas that motivate their work.

Suggested Uses:

  • Use to spark a discussion about artists’ methods and intentions as well as the creative process in general. Have students create art based on the video and your discussion.
  • Use in conjunction with a discussion of the purposes of abstract art.
  • Compare and contrast the techniques and methods used by these five artists in their approach to the same medium.
  • Use in conjunction with a study of abstract paintings found on the Kentucky Virtual Art Museum CD-ROM. Do the comments of these five artists help students better understand abstract art?
  • Use the segment as part of a “careers in the arts” unit or as an introductory activity before an artist-in-residence visits your classroom.

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