Last year, I approached the art department about bringing in art installations or exhibits that showcase student work. I was disappointed with the lackluster response, and have since had time to think about better ways to get students involved.
Then I saw fellow INFO233 SJSU iSchool student Thoai Truong’s recent July 18th post, “Art Displays in Library,” and was inspired by the resources and videos he provides. Thoai notes that the library is a fantastic place to exhibit student work and I agree! This certainly accentuates the library’s role as a learning commons, where students have ample room to showcase their achievements (a key LC feature–see Carol Koechlin & Dr. David Loertscher’s 2014 Knowledge Quest article, “Climbing to excellence: Defining characteristics of a learning commons”).
I like Thoai’s ideas about using the learning commons as a place to display work for finals, or use the exhibits for art competitions. Then I got to thinking about The Price is Right game show and the showcase showdown. In the game, the showcase showdown is between the two contestants who have gotten past three other competitions. The primary problem with the idea of competition is that although winners are able to bask in the attention, is the purpose or mission of the learning commons to display examples of excellent work, or is its mission to be a place where ALL students have a chance to exhibit? (On a related tangent, think of Mary Bennett in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, who is forcefully ejected from the pianoforte bench at the Netherfield ball to allow “other young ladies time to exhibit” (p. 105)).
I would argue that there may be space for both, but when it comes down to it, the learning commons is best served as an equitable environment by various student examples. Our Art 1 teacher currently utilizes a small wall space in the main office to display best student work, and our Advanced Art class has small glass display cases on either side of the entrance to the library, but no more. Wouldn’t it be great if we had art hanging from the barn-like central ceiling? Or display boards where the art changes periodically over the course of the year. Or even areas where teachers could set out student work from their recent biology experiments or Lord of the Flies units.
This is the point where I have to admit that I have been bad about communicating the possibilities and the lengths to which I’d go to house exhibits. Our INFO233 professor, INFO204 professor, INFO237 professor, and INFO266 professor have told us time and time again that we need to advertise to advocate! Here’s to a new school year where I dive into meetings with the Art department (and other departments) to get the word out about showcasing student work. Perhaps our version of a showcase showdown will be more in line with getting a great set of exhibits to work and generating community involvement rather than competing for the glamorous prizes, but building participatory culture is a pretty glamorous prize.
Austen, J. Pride and Prejudice. New York: Scribner and Sons, 1918. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=s1gVAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=pride+and+prejudice&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjkl-CCzZjVAhWmwFQKHbqqCywQ6AEIKDAA#v=onepage&q=%22young%20ladies%20time%20to%20exhibit%22&f=false
Loertscher, D. & Koechlin, C. (2014, March/April). Climbing to excellence: Defining characteristics of a learning commons. Knowledge Quest, 42(4) 14-15. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/urlsa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=6&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiAgJ6LvMrUAhVI6mMKHTqbAH4QFghQMAU&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ala.org%2Faasl%2Fsites%2Fala.org.aasl%2Ffiles%2Fcontent%2Faaslpubsandjournals%2Fknowledgequest%2Fdocs%2FKQ_MarApr14_ClimbingtoExcellence.pdf&usg=AFQjCNE81kSXAozBfnmKvkhBXtq5dmvveg&sig2=G-VMICsHzL8_VxEu6Q68vQ
Showcase Showdown. The Price is Right Wiki. Fandom. Retrieved from http://priceisright.wikia.com/wiki/Showcase_Showdown
Truong, T. (2017, July 18). Art displays in libraries [Web log]. Retrieved from https://ischoolblogs.sjsu.edu/info/thoailearningjournal/