Newest Draft September 2012

Thesis Proposal

Possible Thesis Titles

Releasing Potential

Activating Potential

Touching Potential


For some time now I have been interested in the idea of potentiality.   At first I was focused on what restricted potentiality: societal, environmental, and individual constraints, though now I am thinking about stereotypes.   At the same time I have been exploring what form potentiality might be and have decided to stick with an object deriving from nature and life, a sort of seed.  I experimented with construction techniques in clay.  Then I began to think of the figures as individual characters and started to incorporate skin graphs, a technique for adding texture.  I photographed the work in a variety of situations.  I took my ceramic pieces for walks, to school, kept them in the car just in case, but it was difficult to compose the objects in situations that were not kitschy.  I kept trying not to make the figures appear as garden art, Easter eggs, or the Travelocity gnome.  I arrived at a point where I was no longer satisfied with the form itself.  Potentiality needs a way out, an opening.  My ceramic figures are closed.  I have come up with another possibility!  My new vision is to create soft sculpture characters using fabrics, fibers and notions relating to each character.  The form will be similar to the clay pieces in that it will be derived from the seed, yet I will create an opening so that the form can sprout thereby activating growth.  I see them hanging in an installation so that the audience can walk in through and around them, touching and bumping into the characters.

Statement of Purpose

I have been challenged with the idea of potentiality from many perspectives throughout my life.   I’m thinking of potentiality expressed as possibility, in a positive way. Sometimes I have experienced potentiality as rising with constructive encouragement, or in other circumstances confined.   The heart of my thesis is to comment on how some groups of people are perceived as having no potential.

In high school I clearly recall the day my guidance counselor pulled me over to tell me the stinging truth that I was not reaching my potential.  She was absolutely right.  In other circumstances I was judged unlikely when I was entirely capable just because of where I was from and how I appeared.

As a BPS teacher for sixteen years, I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of students.  My students arrive from various backgrounds often considered by others as underprivileged or lacking in some ways.  Several are surviving unimaginable circumstances.  Upon arrival some of my children believe that they won’t succeed, or can’t succeed because they have already been judged so by society.  I see them as bursting with potential.

Influenced and motivated by my own personal experiences and the attitudes of my students, I want others to see that all walks of life have potential.

I have chosen the format of art-based research to express my ideas because I learn by making, and I want to reach a broader audience.

Research Questions and/or areas for artistic inquiry

The essential question I am researching is what is potentiality?

How is potentiality conceived?

What does the form of potentiality look like?  How do you shape it?  How can I bring an abstract idea to life?

What is the form, shape, color, texture, and scale of potentiality?

What restricts potentiality?

How does potentiality flourish?

How do you nurture potentiality?

Where does potentiality exist?

In what scenarios/situations can find examples of potentiality be found?

Is potentiality self imposed, self reliant, self-activated?

Who restricts potentiality?

When is potentiality ripe?  Does it ever die?

How are people stereotyped?

How are different stereotyped groups clothed?   What kinds of fabrics, fibers, notions could represent them?


Since the start of the MSAE program I have been researching the work of a variety of artists. Most of the artists are contemporary artists, many of which are installation artists who work in various media.  I have also been looking at ceramic artists, photographers, and fiber artists.  My attraction to these artists is for various reasons.  Some of the work that has always appealed to me is related to nature, yet other works of art are compelling for completely different reasons.  I identify with Serra’s list.  I love the idea of Whiteread’s interior of the house with the shell removed.  The reality of Goldin’s photographs resonates with my own life. I’m attracted to Saville’s skin and Chihuly’s  colors and textures.  I love the simplicity, yet loaded work of Liab’s pollen and Ai Wei Wei’s sunflower seed installations.  These are just some of the artists that have influenced me.


Tim Knowles, Basia Irland, Miya Masaoka, David Bowen, Myoung Ho Lee, Michel Bussien, Kathryn Miller, Scott Griger, Richard Serra, Jenny Saville, Wolfgang Liab,

Rachel Whiteread, Nan Goldin, Maya Lin, Ai Weiwie, Dale Chihuly, and Andy Goldsworthy

In my aesthetics class, I had the opportunity to read Morton’s book Ecology Without Nature Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics in which he presents his theory of Dark Ecology.  His theory deconstructs the idea of nature arguing that we are in an ecological state.  He wants us to see ourselves as embedded in nature with all its’ ugliness, and not to hold nature on some pedestal or romanticize it.  His philosophy has changed my view of myself, a building, the city, the trash, everything, as a part of nature.


Morton, Timothy (2007) Ecology Without Nature Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press

Doczi, Gyorgy (2005) The Power of Limits Proportional Harmonies of Nature, Art and Architecture. Boston London: Shambhala Publications, Inc.

Adam, Hans Christian (2008) Karl Blossfeldt The Complete Published Work. China, Taschen


Data collected for this project will include a variety of methodologies consisting of heuristic and art-based research.  Heuristically I have been and will continue to explore the phenomenological idea of potentiality by journaling my experiences, listing, and paying closer attention to my students and the people around me.  From the art-based research methodology, I will examine the work of other artists, experiment with media, and immerse myself in the process of making art.

Diagram of the proposal

My vision is to create a site-specific installation depicting potentiality.  I want to create three dimensional fiber seed like forms clothed abstractly in stereotypic fabrics, fibers, and notions demonstrating each stereotyped group.   Each character will have an opening where possibility is beginning to expand, free to grow.  The figures will be hung from the gallery at various heights and intervals between each other.  The audience will view the work by walking in, around, and through the installation.  Hopefully bumping into and touching the figures.


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Water and Rocks

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Jessica Barry

Curriculum and Issues

Peter Curran

Spring 2012

Final Paper

Teaching for Artistic Behavior



After teaching art for fifteen years at the Tobin School, a Boston Public School, I was not satisfied that my students were developing independent artistic behaviors.  Although students were engaged in their art activities they were limited to the time they could spend mastering materials and developing their own ideas.  Some students prefer to work two dimensionally while others favor three- dimensional work just like in the academic world where students have a preference for one subject over another.  Some students are more tactile than others and would rather work with different medias. While attending Mass Art’s MSAE program, I heard about a different pedagogy of teaching art called Teaching for Artistic Behaviors (TAB), and had the opportunity to perform research.  After reading the book Egaging Learners Through Artmaking Choice-Based Art Education in the Classroom, and conversing online with the authors Katherine M. Douglas and Diane B. Jaquith, I feel that TAB would benefit our students.  I have been invited to visit Jaquith’s school for a site visit to see TAB in action.  There is an avid TAB support group on facebook which constantly chats about all aspects of TAB. Imagine a class where everyone can


What is Teaching for Artistic Behavior?

“Choice based art education provides for the development of artistic behaviors by enabling students to discover what it means to be an artist through authentic creation of artwork.” (pg.3) In a TAB classroom the student is the artist and takes responsibility for subject matter, materials, and his/her approach to art making.  Students maintain control over their artwork and are invested and have incentives to take risks.  Students have access to all materials in every center throughout the year, and work at their own pace.  Inventive play, and discovery learning are necessary opportunities for beginners.  These forms of play, vital to creativity lead to divergent thinking and generate ideas.  Students may work independently of collaborate with others and share their discoveries.  Differentiation permeates the learning environment with multiple forms of instruction during the class time.  The teacher’s role is to provide direct and indirect instruction to the whole class and in small groups. The teacher demonstrates, models, facilitates, coaches, and provides curriculum content according to the state standards.  The teacher is responsible for ensuring materials, tools, and visual references for the independent learner.  Assessment is ongoing, students show evidence of their learning daily.



What does the learning environment look like?

Each studio center has menus, materials, tools, and resources.  Menus are simplified directions or sequenced steps and vocabulary.  There are drawings and photographs for nonreaders and second language learners.  Materials and tools are organized and contained within the center.  Each center is color coded to help with organization.  Resources consisting of visual examples, reproductions or artwork from various cultures and eras is posted on portable bulletin boards, or in kept in folders near specific centers.  Reference materials, art books, and picture books are kept in the Library center for easy access for all students.  Each center is organized with sufficient storage of supplies, and storage for portfolios and three-dimensional work.

The room is thoughtfully arranged to make the best use of space.  Traffic patterns, wet or dry side, the location of clean centers away from messier ones, drying area for wet work, quiet area, and meeting area are all considered when planning the placement of centers.  A meeting or demonstration area where all students can gather for the beginning and end of class is necessary.  This central area should have a board or table where all students can see demonstrations, or slide presentations.  This area is crucial for demonstrations in the beginning of class and sharing and reflecting at the end of each class.


How is the class structured?

TAB provides a new perspective on teaching and learning.  Each class begins in the meeting area with a demonstration of information, a slide show (five minute museum)of artwork, or the introduction of an essential question for exploration in different media.  Small group and individual instruction happens throughout the work period.  During the work period the teachers’ role is to facilitate solutions, provide additional instruction and reinforcement.  The teacher may make connections between a student’s work and the work of adult artists.  The teacher may also sit beside students and model studio habits of mind.

The classes are structured into segments consisting of a beginning demonstration, studio work period, cleanup time, and sharing and reflecting.  Whole group instruction is provided during a five-minute demonstration.  At this time basic information about new materials or techniques and how to get started is presented.  Or a discussion of images in the five minute museum is begun.  The demonstration content originates from district standards, art history, and emergent student needs and interests.  Supporting resources are permanently available in studio centers.  Core information is not only available in demos, but in menus, exemplars, technology, and books.  Small group, individual and peer instruction is provided during the studio time.  Learners provide much of the instruction at studio centers.  Those who work repeatedly at a center mentor other students.  Learners work at their own pace.  Nearing cleanup time, the teacher calls attention to the clock and students are responsible for cleaning up.  The end of class is reserved for sharing and reflecting.  Children in the primary grades may claim their work and pair share by finding a friend and asking, “What did you do today?”  Individuals may share with the whole group allowing for a question and answer session.  Students in the intermediate grades maintain journals in which they record their efforts at the end of class.  The journals may contain: notes, diagrams, goal setting, and writing.

Students are responsible for their actions.  Class rules are set developmentally appropriate.  Behave like an artist – take care of people, take care of stuff. Playing and experimenting with art materials are artistic behaviors.  Talking about art ideas is artistic behavior.  Each student will develop a unique combination of behaviors that form the foundation of his or her own creative process.


How do you assess progress?

There are high expectations for students in the art studio.  They asked to Find an idea, select materials to express the idea, arrange those materials plus tools in a workspace, pace themselves, create the image or the structure, overcome any obsticles, return materials and tools to where they belong, and finally to discuss their work and reflect on their progress.

Student achievement varies according to the student’s experiences.   Some ways of formative assessment are from observations of students engaged in artistic behaviors, and careful listening to students talking about their work with others.  Daily conferences with students are another way to assess.   The artwork itself will demonstrate student ideas and technical skill ability.  In studio centers students constantly demonstrate what they know and can do by themselves.

An assortment of tools are utilized to assess student work and their artistic  behaviors.  Daily gridded charts record the centers which the student participates in.  Students in the intermediate grades keep journals to reflect on their work. Talking about artwork in the form of critiques or during the daily reflection time allows for constructive criticism. Performance rubrics based on artistic behaviors are periodically filled out by students and teachers, and for special projects.


What kinds of studio centers are there?

Some studio centers are consistently available throughout the school year, while other ephemeral centers are offered to particular grade levels for shorter periods of time.  Additionally, short supply materials are offered periodically as specials.  The centers available throughout the year are drawing, painting, collage, sculpture, printmaking, clay, fibers, architecture, and the library.  Centers are begun in sequence with grand openings.  Ephemeral centers such as bookmaking, mask making, paper making, papier mache, puppetmaking, murals, and beading come and go.  Short supply additions consist of wire sculpture, metal tooling, scratchboard, plaster, mosaics, carving, and linoleum block printing.


What supplies are needed?

Steady Centers

Drawing – drawing pencils, colored pencils, charcoal pencils, erasers, markers, sharpies, oil pastels, chalk pastels, conte crayons, crayons, assorted mark making tools, assorted paper, rulers

Painting – watercolor, tempera, and acrylic paint; gesso, water containers, palettes, assorted brushes, assorted mark making tools, ink, pens and nibs, sumi brushes, assorted paper and canvas

Collage – assorted papers, tissue paper, metallic papers, cardboards, poster board, scissors, fancy scissors, hole punches, staplers, glue, beans, macaroni, string, yarn

Sculpture – cardboard, heavy papers, assorted wire, newspaper, assorted tapes, glue guns

Printmaking – styrofoam, sponges, textured rollers, plexiglass, vegetables, printing inks, ink pads, assorted papers, brayers, cardboards, assorted stuff for collographs

Clay – clays, flour, salt, clay tools, rolling pins, buckets, glazes, brushes, plaster board

Fibers –assorted textiles, cotton, muslim, burlap, felt, yarn, wooden and cardboard looms, pins, assorted needles, thread, embroidery thread, cotton batting

Architecture – blocks, cardboard containers,

Library – picture books, how to books, reference books, art history, biographies, myths, poems,


Ephemeral Centers:

Ephemeral Centers often use supplies from steady centers, but also require some of their own materials.

Book Arts – used book, assorted papers, cardboard, fabric, needles, thread, yarn, staplers, tacks, rulers,

Papier Mache – newspaper, colored paper, masking tape, wire, bowls, flour, glue, paste paper, paint supplies

Mask Making – elastic thread, heavy papers, cardboards, mask molds, plaster, paper mache supplies,

Paper Making – assorted papers, blenders, bats, frames, screens, cloth, sponges, buckets, string, lace, dried flowers, glitter

Puppet Making – supplies vary depending upon the age group and use materials from steady centers

Murals – mural papers, cloth, (paint, drawing, collage, center materials)

Beading – assorted, beads, string, yarn, wire, looms, clasps, clay supplies, magazines

Marble paper – oil paint, trays, mineral spirit, paper, forks

Paste Paper – rice flour, alum, textured rollers


Short Supply Special Additions

wire, metal, scratchboards, carving blocks and plastic knives, linoleum, linoleum cutters

(See separate posts for year at glance calendars  and classroom map)




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Alternate Firing

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