Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Make Art That Hurts

I've been reading about the German Expressionist painters recently since I'm teaching my Eighth grade class about it. To see a slideshow visit

Ernst Kirchner in particular interested me. Much of his early work looks like Matisse's. But Matisse believed that every painting needs to be joyful and comfortable for viewers. After Kirchner suffered a breakdown as a soldier wounded in WWI, his works came to reflect his deep suffering. Kirchner wasn't necessarily fishing for sympathy, but his paintings certainly invoke emotions and provoke reaction.

Norwegian master Edvard Munch is know for deliberately making his viewers part of his paintings like audience participants standing in a stage play. His viewers are usually discovering intimate scenes that in real life they'd probably not be intended to see. This strategy of Munch's doesn't merely express his feelings, it effectively shares experiences.

Notifying friends of a trauma may solicit sympathy, but sharing an artwork you created or a poem you wrote in response to your trauma can in very real ways shae or replicate your experience thereby eliciting empathy.

Art (not just painting, drawing or sculpting, but writing too) is not only therapeutic for the one creating it, but can be cathartic for the viewer too. In that way it builds connections between people and helps students develop empathy.

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