I have received some Comparative Study questions from teachers who participated in a previous category 1 visual arts workshop and am sharing my responses now with others through this blog. In some cases, I have also referred to things written by the online facilitators from My IB.

1. How should students go about selecting their artworks?

I think there should be some links between the pieces chosen – for example a shared idea that may be interpreted differently at different times or in different cultures. It may be hard to explore and compare artifact and objects in sufficient depth if three completely different artworks/objects have been chosen.

Avoid random collections! If students have ‘starting point’ ideas consider guiding them towards different artworks that could reflect those ideas.

2. Can students include ‘detail’ views in addition to the general shot of the artwork (for example a large Renaissance painting where there is a lot going on)?

Absolutely! In fact, it would be crazy not to in the example you offer. The student could explore and explain elements far more clearly if the detail is ‘removed’ and shown separately, perhaps with arrows to point out things specifically under discussion.

3. I get Criterion B and Criterion C confused – help!?

There is certainly overlap between B and C. This may be the cause of confusion, but it’s also where the student could synthesise his/her ‘cultural’ responses to both criteria.

Both descriptors refer to culture – the ”cultural context in which they were created” (B) and the “cultural significance of the selected artworks” (C).

The differing words are context and significance.

B Cultural context

Consider the function and purpose of works of art such as socio-political, religious or ceremonial, personal expression, provocation, narrative, functional etc

C Cultural significance

Consider an art historical context, as well as the cultural, socio-political and historical significance of the works. Students should also consider the original audience and purpose, as well as a contemporary audience, because so much changes with context. (But don’t get into bibliography!)

4. Can an HL student ‘mix and match’ their screens?

I mean, have say 17 (not 15) screens for A – E and 3 (not 5) screens for F, the ‘connections to own art-making practices?

No. Or at least, if the student goes over the 15 screens just completing the common SL/HL part of the task, only the first 15 screens are considered.

Up to five screens for F are considered, so there is no problem with only submitting 3 – but the ‘lost’ pages may have helped. There is no penalty for submitting fewer screens, as it is considered to be potentially self-limiting.

5 My students like to decorate their screens/pages – will the examiner like this?

If the pages are aesthetically beautiful, will that give a better impression?

Not necessarily, although I guess it depends on your definition of ‘aesthetically beautiful’, and if that includes a generally clear and clean layout with a coherent and accessible overall look. I can’t see the point of just ‘decorating’ the pages…

6 “I did this” or “This is made by me” – which is best for when the student made the art?

Neither. I tell my students to use the phrase “My own work”, together with artwork title, size, media etc.