The project involved Children's Art Workshop, the Program for Southeast Asian Studies and Hayden Library at Arizona State University and the Arizona Lao Association. They sought to teach Lao art traditions to 25 students from diverse communities in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
"Our problem became, then, how to give students necessary skills, maintain a sense of individual vision and remain true to the form and function of Lao art and design as we understood it." Henderson noted.
"Teachers should ask students to define and identify primary tenets of the tradition in their own work and then contrast those with familiar tenets as a learning tool, such as symmetry and symmetry, for example, which are common principles in Western art," she noted as a recommended practice.
In her concluding remarks we can find some interesting recommendations. I will be interested to see how many of these are applied and incorporated into existing efforts over the next twelve years in particular. She writes:
"Due to the differing nature of traditional Lao craftsmanship and the Western emphasis on self-expression, issues arose both during the planning stages and in the classroom on exactly what and how to teach Lao weaving and design. Context also played an important role regarding potential conflicts in terms of the flexible nature of a Saturday art program, regarded more as entertainment than education by some parents and students, and demographics of the student body. Teacher and staff awareness of those factors and possible ensuing issues, however, will help preparations of future classes for issues that need resolution, and to remain focused on both the material and conceptual aspects of art production. In addition, the notion of pushing into deeper content in student artworks is one that can be built up through a series of activities moving from simpler lessons to a more complicated mixture of form and function. Over time and with focused attention, the presentation of a multitude of art traditions will become more commonplace within art education, particularly within teacher preparation programs. The issues will seem less contentious as appropriate language and viable solutions become easier to access through repeated practice, leaving the way open for both techers and students to successfully navigate and enjoy the complex mysteries of art and culture."
But what are some approaches and challenges you see with teaching Lao art?