Mind the gap: Drawing Theory and Practice together
    John Roome and Nirmi Ziegler

    South Africa’s educational landscape is scarred with economic and educational inequalities. South African tertiary education today has to deal with a variety of challenges including the lack of funding, both on the student’s side and on the side of the institution. The most prominent challenge relevant to our research is the extensive lack of skills and knowledge of students when coming from secondary school where they are rarely exposed to cognitive skills. Our students struggle to understand the notion of a ‘concept’ or ‘metaphor’ in an artwork: that art is not just representative or aesthetic, but communicates a message, an idea, a criticism, or appreciation. This requires creative and critical thinking. We present a case study of a drawing and animation project that aimed to facilitate this. We argue that through the integration of art theory and drawing practice, students came to understand not only how to detect critical thinking by other artists, but how to implement concepts, metaphors, or symbols in their own work.

    Through this project we explored drawing:
    • as a bridge to close the gap between theory and practice
    • as a tool for creative and critical thinking, and
    • as a means to introduce technology on a basic (low-cost) level

    We found that our integrated approach narrowed the theory/practice gap and enhanced creative and critical thinking, resulting in student work of greater conceptual quality.

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    Biographical information

    John Roome and Nirmi Ziegler

    Roome and Ziegler teach drawing and art theory in the Fine Art department at the Durban University of Technology in South Africa and have 35 and 13 years of teaching experience respectively. Both are working towards PhDs, John Roome in practice led research and Nirmi Ziegler in e-learning.

    John Roome

    Nirmi Ziegler

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