- Art Education Program
- School of Art and Design
- University of Illinois in Chicago
Each fall 100 teen artists from throughout the Chicago area gather on Saturday mornings at Art and Design Hall at the University of Illinois at Chicago to work with student teachers from the UIC Art Education Program to explore contemporary art and to develop artmaking and critical thinking skills. The Workshop is divided into groups organized around themes and techniques. This gives students the opportunity for
in-depth investigation of media and themes.

UIC’s Art Education Program recognizes that there is often a wide gap between art as it is made, seen, and understood in universities, museums, and communities, and how art is taught at the elementary and secondary levels. Spiral Workshop is a place in which teen artists and emerging art teachers work together to envision and create new styles of art education--an education that is rooted in the stories and concerns of the students and their communities through connecting the practices of contemporary artmaking with the practices of contemporary pedagogy.

Spiral Workshop has a dual mission:
* to be a studio where teen artists can explore artmaking in a cultural studies context.
* to be a laboratory to develop curriculum projects that can be taught in middle school and high school art classrooms.

Spiral Workshop creates curriculum that encourages students to investigate questions relating visual and social phenomena. Many interesting art projects like much interesting contemporary art encourages the reconsideration of our notions of "the real," "the natural," and "the normal"--seeing how these are socially constructed through complex layerings of meanings and metaphors.

The goal of Spiral Workshop is not to come up with a new orthodoxy, a single set of projects or ideas that sum up the totality of today’s art discourses, but rather to think of our projects as interventions and additions to the current curriculum-- changing the way students think about culture and artmaking. It is an eclectic, postmodern approach to curriculum construction. We pick through curriculum artifacts, refurbish what is still useful, discard what is no longer necessary, and introduce entirely new contents when needed.

At Spiral Workshop we consider four components when designing a project. Each project should (1) deal with an issue of developmental importance to the students, (2) be based on a contemporary social theme, (3) include examples of past and recent artworks which have explored these themes, and (4) teach a method (conceptual and/or technical) for constructing works of art.

Every year the Spiral Workshops culminates in a show and community reception. Typically hundreds of people attend the show--teens, community adults, families, area art teachers and other educators as well as university students and faculty. Spiral student artists don’t just create exercises. They aren’t just practicing to create "real art." Spiral students and faculty work together to make individual art projects and collaborative installations that investigate vital issues for the youth artists and their many communities.

To receive mailings about future Spiral Workshop sessions or invitations to the Spiral Workshop Community Reception, call and give your name and address to the Spiral Workshop Representative at the UIC School of Art and Design office. 312-996-3337
-> Examples of Past Spiral Groups:
-> Chiaroscuro
-> Concrete Guardian
-> Reality Check

-> Thought Patterns