Art versus trash, how can we tell? That is the question of the day. Most of us from higher art education agree that "art is an important factor in the creation of cultural identity" (Noel, 2008, pp. 445) but as an educator placing this article in a practicable, sensible, usable form applied directly to art education in my work place, I would say that a large portion of my customer base (parents and some school administration) are not art history literate and there is nothing wrong with that, but we cannot expect the majority of the world to have the same understanding as we ourselves do. I sometimes receive the comment, "what is my child making with you, it looks like trash!" Because the parent is used to traditional methods where "the entire class diligently following set instructions to produce near-identical pieces of work, all doing their best to copy the teacher`s example" and what they (parents and administration) need to understand is that this process has nothing to do with learning "expression, creativity and originality" (Gibb, 2012, pg. 241). So, if the art teacher and the school administration are not capable of communicating the value of that "piece of trash" the learning experience may become lost or worse even a negative learning experience.
Reading "Identifying Art" exactly before reading "Room 13" was an interesting mix because of Noel`s focus on the historical narrative and how that could prove a "piece of trash" to be art. According to Noel the narrative fills in the gap between what we know historically to be art and the new (trash looking) art (Noel, 2008, pg. 447). This means to be able to name a "piece of trash" art you would have to have this historical knowledge. If you do not, are you allowed to call it art? When one reads about the 10 year olds of Room 13 creating art and challenging how old one has to be to make "real art" we have to wonder how at such a young age do they posses this knowledge- and must they I wonder? The 10 year olds use what has been widely accepted at traditional art making practices so we accept their work as art. Students naively creating still learn to use traditional art practices (as most are natural and picked up by watching others) and this cannot be said to solitary, Noel believes, as do I, that art is a social, communicative process, that "from an anthropological point of view, the prospect of utterly asocial art has the probability of zero" (Noel, 2008, pg. 453). This is why I deem communication and dialogue skills so important and the perfect place for learning them can also be in the art room through discussing aesthetics and learning to care.
The creativity and critical thinking skills demanded in the studio environment foster a confidence that will enable them (students) to lead the way in exploring new applications of these tools that will be necessary as they grow up to find their place in the workspaces of the future." Claire Gibb, Room 13, 2012, pg. 243
Gibb, C. 2012. Room 13: The Movement and International Network. International Journal of Art \& Design Education, 31 (3), pp. 237--244.
Noel, C. 1999. Identifying Art. In: Cahn, S. and Aaron, M. eds. 2008. Aesthetics: A Comprehensive Anthology. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 445-454.