The Art of the Assignment
“Take an 18×24 inch piece of paper and make a drawing using nothing but your car.”
– Heather Hart, Draw it with your eyes closed: the art of the art assignment
We’re deeply interested in the ways that creative prompts drive creative work. So for us, reading Draw it with your eyes closed is a magical experience. It’s full of dozens of examples of the best – and worst – art assignments in and beyond university classrooms. It’s useful for teachers of all disciplines; the qualities that makes these assignments successful are not specific to art necessarily, but instead illustrate the perfect balance between freedom and structure. The 75 or so assignments are all available at http://drawitwithyoureyesclosed.com.
The writer Anne Lamott speaks to the importance of short assignments in her classic Bird by Bird:
Often when you sit down to write, what you have in mind is an autobiographical novel about your childhood, or a play about the immigrant experience, or a history of – oh, say – say women. But this is like trying to scale a glacier.
Her interest in the assignment is not necessarily in the way it is framed, but in the scale of it. Both of these selections have transformed the way we think about how to deliberately craft learning experiences for people of all ages.