Achievement and Quality: Higher Education in the Arts
General Observations on Quality, Achievement, and the Natures of the Art Forms
Concepts Associated with Quality in Works of Art
The natures of the arts dictate certain terms for considering achievement and quality in terms of the art forms themselves. The selection of attributes below is provided for institutions that want to consider the arts on their own terms, in the same sense as they consider other disciplines on their own terms. Considering a discipline on its own terms means working with it and assessing it in terms of its general intent, content, process, and products.
- Achievement and quality in creation or performance occur when the work is successful in terms of the art form. A work may also be successful in other terms: it may make money, it may become famous, it may support a cause, it may enhance a celebration, it may be the basis for research and scholarship in other fields. However, success in any of these areas is not a substitute for success in terms of the art form.
- The arts disciplines have essential technical components. It is not enough simply to conceive; one must also be able to execute. Normally, technical ability is pursued by artists throughout their careers. Helping the artist achieve eventual virtuosity is a major purpose of arts programs in higher education.
- Technique, though essential, is not the sole ingredient of art or the sole measure of achievement.
- At advanced and complex levels, the arts involve work with deep structure, layers of connection, integration, and synthesis that function on many perceptual and intellectual levels. For example, developing deep structure within specific amounts of time or space and creating balances between stasis and change and between form and content are major aspects of composition or design in all the art forms. Ability to make effective choices, arrangements, and juxtapositions of elements of the art form is an element of quality determination.
- The artist may deal with a universal truth, belief, or perceptual system, but does so within the parameters established by the unique goal of a particular work.
- There are general rules that shape and inform each arts discipline, and create frameworks for highly individualistic action and reaction. However, attempts to impose detailed rules usually stifle art.
- Evaluation is continuous in the formation or presentation of a work of art. Assessment criteria used by arts professionals reflect the nature of the artistic mode of thought and the natures of each of the arts disciplines themselves. Methodologies used to evaluate works or procedures in other fields may be useful in the arts, but often are not.
- High achievement associated with quality requires an understanding of distinctions between quality of process and quality of result. Goals, or desired results, are the drivers of technical process; process is only a means to achieve specific goals.
- In the development of works of art, it does not matter how little or how much time is spent if the result is outstanding. Efficiency has no particular virtue.
Important Attributes and Characteristics of Individual Achievement
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