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Draw It with Your Eyes Closed: The Art of the Art Assignment Paperback – February 22, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A mischievous and nourishing new book... Here's what Paper Monument's editors, in this slim book, have had the wit to do: They've asked dozens of artists and teachers, some well known and some not, to speak about the best art assignments they ve given or received or even heard of. The results are aimed at M.F.A.-level teachers, but these 89 entries are accessible to anyone, many even to children. Like the conversation in the final hour of a boozy art opening, these small anecdotal essays mix gossip, profundity, bogosity and lecherousness in equal parts. The book is buzzy and wild, like real talk. --Dwight Garner, the New York Times

The more than eighty contributions by big guns like John Baldessari and up-and-comers like Margaret Lee range from sound advice (Dan Torop: 'Most art students, if lucky, will become basic practitioners, not flashy dragon-lords, and should have a straightforward way of working') to instructions that sound fun to follow, whether you're an aspiring Leonardo or not (Heather Hart: 'Take an 18x24 inch piece of paper and make a drawing using nothing but your car'). --The New Yorker

A delightful, useful book... Some respondents elaborate on the value of the art assignment to their pedagogy, while others do not; some are serious, some are funny, and many manage to be both. These particular assignments are memorable not for the artworks that resulted but for the projects' attempts to encourage critical and responsive thinking to question preconceptions about where art comes from, how it might function and its place in contemporary life. --Stephen Maine, Art in America

The more than eighty contributions by big guns like John Baldessari and up-and-comers like Margaret Lee range from sound advice (Dan Torop: 'Most art students, if lucky, will become basic practitioners, not flashy dragon-lords, and should have a straightforward way of working') to instructions that sound fun to follow, whether you're an aspiring Leonardo or not (Heather Hart: 'Take an 18x24 inch piece of paper and make a drawing using nothing but your car'). --The New Yorker

A delightful, useful book... Some respondents elaborate on the value of the art assignment to their pedagogy, while others do not; some are serious, some are funny, and many manage to be both. These particular assignments are memorable not for the artworks that resulted but for the projects' attempts to encourage critical and responsive thinking to question preconceptions about where art comes from, how it might function and its place in contemporary life. --Stephen Maine, Art in America
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: n+1 Foundation; 1st edition (February 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979757541
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979757549
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Simon Pierce on September 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recommend the book to all university art students and instructors, not for its insight or analysis (there are precious few insights to be found in it and the editors wisely refrained from analysis to emphasize the book's documentary value) but for how it exposes the desperate poverty of meaning in programs that cost young artists a great deal of time and money. Think of it as Sinclair Lewis' Jungle for art schools. It is both invaluable and strangely unprecedented. Invaluable in that it delivers an honest look at what goes on in MFA programs for the visual arts; unprecedented, as its the first time someone thought to do this - which is difficult to understand given the extraordinary depths to which aesthetic thought has sunk in recent decades. Apparently art instructors, many at a loss for what to actually teach, offer instead puzzles with no answers, blatant power games, pseudo-philosophical posturing, pointless busy work ranging from inane to mean-spirited, all varieties of abuse within the teacher student relationship, childish expressions of bile, and an assortment of pretentious conceptual drivel that proved truly painful to read through. Dispersed among this collection of absurdities are a few serious assignments, with which the average art instructor is already familiar. Overall the picture is quite sad. Nowhere is it suggested exactly what students are expected to learn from any of this, other than the commonplace notion of thinking outside the box. If you have found, as I have in teaching art students that they are not idiots incapable of as basic a human mental skill as thinking outside the box, then this book will anger you. And if it doesn't, consider yourself part of the problem it illustrates so well in stark, deadpan clarity.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Christian D Vandehaar on May 23, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been a high school art teacher for 2 years, and through the 60-80 hour weeks of trying to come up with self-made assignments, tests (based on school requirements), grading systems, emotional teenagers, I've been at a loss of a good resource to produce stimulating assignments for the current need in creativity and mental maturity. This book has provided sooooo many ideas for me to use or stem from. If you were an art student in college you will definitely connect to a lot of the projects and their conceptual basis. I was laughing hysterically from a lot of the assignments because I've either been there or truly understand the underlying purpose of the assignment. I cannot wait till next year when I can start applying these concepts/assignments into my curriculum. I've never written a review but I truly felt compelled to after only reading 25 pages into the book. Should be a requirement for any new high school art teacher.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Hinda K. Sterling, Ph.D. on January 27, 2013
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The book is based on a very interesting concept--ask artists about the most unusual art assignment they have ever had and then compile them all. However, the author and the editors of the book could have done a much better job of editing the book and printing it. First of all, it appears that the type face is in 6 pt. It does require reading glasses to read the materials. They are poorly arranged on the page. I can't believe that a book on art, art concepts, and art education would be so poorly designed--this in itself is a real drawback to the point that you almost don't want to struggle with the print. Come on, artists can do better than this. Next, the contributions are just thrown together without rhyme or reason--how about arranging them thematically with an introduction to each section? I was so disappointed with this book and I was so looking forward to reading it--the best thing about the book is the title. A few of the contributions were very interesting and very instructive--but most of it is foolish and points out the lack of thoughtfulness on the part of the instructors. After I finished reading 90% of it, I found myself disillusioned and disappointed--it seems as is art education/instruction/teachers/schools have lost their grounding and integrity. It makes the whole arena of art seem foolish and pointless and as a person who holds an MFA from a very prestigious art school, this book is an insult to those who take creating art seriously.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J on July 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
First, let me say that I am not an artist, nor have I taken extensive art classes. I am living proof that neither of those are prerequisites to enjoy Draw It with Your Eyes Closed. I was both entertained and well-informed by the end of DIwYEC, a widely varying collection of short essays detailing first-person experiences of different approaches to art instruction. Some of the authors are familiar, some are obscure, but each brings a fresh perspective to a bewilderingly broad question: how do you practice art? Given the scope of the project, it should not come as a surprise to find that each instructor betrays some of his or her own artistic views in the assignments - we learn almost as much about the artists as we do about their assignments. The autobiographical quality of the book makes the ideas in the assignments even more accessible, and personal. Some authors do not speak as instructors, instead telling stories from their student years, of assignments that they completed. These students show their view of the teacher, the assignment, and say first-hand whether the instruction was useful to their development as an artist, or not. DIwYEC gives an oblique view of what it feels like to be an art student, and to be an art teacher, in small vignettes and hints at long hours, intra-studio bonding, and frustration with the process. There are several amusing anecdotes of institutional regulation and unconventional interpretations of assignments, which add color to the art-school picture. The examples of past interpretations give readers even more to consider, while they imagine what they would do in the student's place.Read more ›
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