Of course, it’s good to collaborate. It’s an important life-skill and can be mutually beneficial for all involved. It’s also often the route to greater achievement than might e the case for an individual working alone.

So why shouldn’t you as a student collaborate in all your classes?

One reason could be the requirement that your work is reliably and accurately assessed. For example, if five students collaborate to make an exciting final outcome, the final result might be a success but how do examiners allocate marks? Looking at a final artwork created by a group of people, how will the examiner know who did what, in order to fairly assess it?

Celebration of Learning

Recently ran a short (45 minute) collaborative art activity for colleagues – non-art teachers – at my school, with 8 teachers each making a drawing of a different view of a skull. The drawings were then assembled to be constituent parts of a final combined art piece.

It was part of a ‘celebration of learning’ afternoon, when teachers were encouraged to run a class in their own subject-area for others.

The final outcome depicted all eight ‘skull’ artworks, so in fact in this case assessment would be straightforward, but generally speaking collaborative artworks present more complex assessment challenges.

Art as therapy?

The teachers who participated all felt that although it was challenging for some of them, the activity itself – drawing – was also relaxing and the process gave them things that they had not previously encountered.

They said that it felt good to focus on making something, with guidance; it was enjoyable and for some a little surprising.

Like many art teachers I am probably involved in making art at some level every day, but for many other teachers – who teach, say French or Math or History (etc) – it was a new and unusual experience. Although a couple acknowledged that it was outside their comfort zone, all said that they loved it!

How is this relevant to Visual Arts?

  • First of all, they talked to each other and to me; the activity was a great vehicle for communication, and may well be an introductory exercise for new students at the start of the course for my next cohort in 2020. Collaboration is good!
  • For the purposes of this activity, I selected the object to draw – a skull – but it would be more personal if you – the student – could select an object that you are familiar with, for example something that has personal significance.
  • It’s also quick and relatively easy, with a (potentially) striking end-result.
  • Drawing is a skill and is one of the art-making forms referred to in the Art-making Forms table.
  • Your current art class could do this? The results could be temporarily displayed together in school somewhere, but (if desired) uploaded individually when the time comes: the component parts (individual drawings) can be easily separated after display for inclusion in Process Portfolio or Exhibition if desired.

The photos here show the drawings made by the teachers and the final ‘group’ artwork.