Theme

DEFINITION

A theme is a unifying topic, and might be a subject or an idea. An artist, educator, writer, gallery or museum can select a theme as a means of choosing or ordering subject matter for a body of work -- which will be or has been produced, perhaps to be studied in an art education program, or to be displayed in an exhibition.As Mary Erickson (Professor of Art Education, Arizona State U) has pointed out, art educators use non-art-specific themes to organize content and as a basis for selecting artworks to be presented within lessons or units because themes help students integrate their understanding by (as Erickson has put it): connecting ideas in art with events and situations in students' own lives connecting learning about art with learning through art making connecting artworks from very different cultures and eras connecting ideas in art with ideas in other areas of studyErickson suggests that a theme will be most effective when it is articulated both as a general theme in life and as a theme in art. Broad based themes that have concerned people from all times and cultures emerge as participants reflect on the meaning of artworks made in different times and cultures.Examples of themes in art: A culture, period, movement, style, etc. A genre: portrait, landscape, still-life, etc. A medium, technique, process, etc. Figuration and abstraction. Love, sex, death, xenophobia, feminism, time, etc. Art in private or public places.Examples of non-art-specific themes around which Erickson suggests educators design units of study: The figure, or more specifically: people at home, people at play, children, family, community, etc. Cities, suburbs, towns, rural life, etc. Contemporary issues: identity, feminism, gender, multiculturalism, politics, body art, xenophobia, etc. Compassion, protest, persuasion, etc.Other examples of themes in life: Love Sex Death TimeAlso see abecedarian, chronology, composition, interdisciplinary, sequence, and taxonomy.

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