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an art history textbook that doesn’t weigh 15 pounds*

January 23, 2009

smARThistory.org is delightful. It seems like a great example of people (in this case, professors) responding creatively to technology, to their students, and to the material, and being truly internety by staying away from closed/proprietary content. I would love it if this (or any) site provided a comparable resource for African, Asian, “non-Western” art. OR SOMETHING. 

The editors of Janson’s History of Art, unsure of where to put the African and Asian sections once they could no longer credibly be called primitive, eventually just took them out altogether. Now apparently the classic is subtitled “The Western Tradition,” just to be honest. (I had Gardner’s myself.) 

I was able to find some educators’ resources on the web from The Museum for African Art and some pretty good content and links from the Met. There is also the clunky and unattractive but thorough Heilbrunn Timeline with its “thematic essays.” Still, these are clearly not the same thing as a survey/introduction to the arts of these regions. 

smARThistory

Thinking about educational materials reminds me of a small battle for political correctness I fought with one of the art ed. professors at my university. The art ed. majors taught k-12 art classes on the weekends, with a big exhibition in our art building at the end of each term. One semester, the kindergartners had made (and presumably learned about) “AFRICAN MONSTER MASKS.” I contacted the lady in charge just to say I thought that while I appreciated the effort, the terminology was not so good; she sent me a pretty angry response and said she would take it to the chair of the department, my advisor AND AN AFRICAN. FROM AFRICA. 

*okay, I guess the servers somewhere weigh something and probably cancel out whatever environmental savings from not printing and shipping the book.

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