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Fine Arts - Conceptual Art

All art is built on elements of concepts. Conceptual art, to be specific, works around each element and puts it in the foreground. Usually, the process of producing art starts with the concept being embedded into the work, whatever medium is chosen. Making art requires interest or enthusiasm, even to the point of routine or superficiality… to bring this art to life and awaken an artist's rich metaphoric background.

How does one teach conceptual art? Educators must see to it that students use visuals and metaphors to express their concepts. Exploring non-literal things and imploring them into the art are good practices to open the mind for further imagination. It also adds value to learn the theories around conceptual art that students may need to understand before going through the production process.

The first idea of conceptual art dates back in the 20th century when abstract art became popular and people started redefining the meaning of art through questions and new practices. Marcel Duchamp, a French painter and sculptor decided that art needed to become conceptual, or more about meaning, than exclusively focused on visual qualities. An entire movement dedicated to abstract art followed through, and later called this pioneering figure in conceptual art as Dada. Dada embraces anarchic sense of the absurd, such as in the "Merz 460" of German artist, Kurt Schwitters, which is an artwork that is essentially a collage of uncovered premade objects from 1921 and rearranged into art. Conceptualism, the first movement to formally embrace concepts, happened in the 1960s, which birthed the term "conceptual art" through the American artist Sol Lewitt.

Integrating conceptual art into teaching allows teachers to shift from technique-driven to idea-driven instructions. It is interesting to discover that students will explore various mediums, ideas and situations, and even mixed media, mixed visuals and sound strategies to produce a conceptual art. By investigating on these different variables, students are able to get multiple sources of concepts and hopefully discover a unifying framework as a result.