Art Trinity

There are three aspects of artmaking. They are creativity, communication, and craft.

The Place Where Spring Breeze Makes Rain by Ming-Yi Zaleski, art teacher
The Place Where Spring Breeze Makes Rain by Ming-Yi Zaleski, art teacher

Wait! Those are three Cs. I hate it! There are too many Cs out there: the 4 Cs of 21st Century Skills for example (which are extremely important, but I’m getting sick of hearing it), or other sets of Cs for art and artists like Concept, Content, and Context, or Clarity, Consistency, and Constancy (which sounds a little redundant, but hey, at least they are consistent).

Let’s fix it. How about Originality, Expression, and Technique… Nope. I’m gonna stick with the word Craft, because it is closer to what I mean. At least Originality, Expression and Craft won’t be turned into some horrid acronym!

Creativity, problem-solving, design, and experimentation with materials, ideas, methods and forms of art

Personal voice and communication of ideas including informational, personal, emotional, social, political, and cultural

Media manipulation, skill, technique, and making of traditional and non-traditional objects for various functions

Each intersection of these can be explored as well:

  • originality and expression
  • expression and craft
  • craft and originality

But if I name or articulate those further someone will make some six-part graphic representing the whole thing and color it with primary and secondary colors like a color wheel and then I will want to scream!

I point out these intersections so we can look at what we have students do in the classroom.

If we ask to students to do a task that addresses only ONE or TWO of the three aspects, it’s just an EXERCISE, don’t call it artmaking, call it practice.

Original application of media and techniques (craft) without meaning (expression) is an exercise.

Communicating an idea (expression) without originality, even with excellent craftsmanship is just an exercise.

(And yes, I mean to say the last one too…) Even a creative idea expressed (originality and expression) is just an exercise (a thought exercise at that) without the application of some skill or craft to present the idea.


Ok… I’m done. You can push back now.


2 thoughts on “Art Trinity”

    1. This is not my own work, but the work of a very talented art teacher colleague, Ming Zaleski. Clicking on the photo or her name should take you to her website for more information. Also check out my post on the Artist Teacher Exhibition. This piece is included in the show.

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