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Using art to build resilience

Visual Arts students in Year 10 have been using painting to express their identity – and have learnt resilience and risk-taking in the process.

Teacher Nikki Rakete asked her students to tap into their experiences, beliefs and perspectives to create their works. They reflected on questions such as: Where are you from? Where have you been? Where do you belong? What do you believe in?

Many found aspects of the process challenging.

“Taking risks and experimenting is a key component of this and some students can find the premise of not having an ‘answer’ challenging. Unlike revising for a test or learning pre-determined information, they are required to think critically about how to communicate an idea that they have complete ownership over. The process of thinking, selecting and juxtaposing their imagery is fluid and changeable and completely individualised to each student.”

Students needed to refine their skills around selecting and scaling imagery to create a dynamic and balanced outcome. “By committing to the creative process of experimenting and refining their ideas, they develop resilience as they don’t always get their idea right the first, second or even fifth time,” she explained.

After generating ideas for their composition students learnt the skills and processes of building up their painting in layers: from a base layer of gesso, to their colour ground and then personally significant objects and places.

While students learnt a lot – including taking ownership, seeking meaning, and acting with purpose – Mrs Rakete said she too had gained a lot of insight.

“This kind of task opens the door to communication about the very individual experiences that our students have of the world around them, which they then bring to our school community. It gives insight into the things that have shaped their lives and the choices that they make. It highlights areas of great strength and areas of human worry or anxiety that we can all relate to,” she explained.

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