Deconstruction & Reconstruction

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Deconstruction & Reconstruction

Deconstruction is a concept that can be highly useful in the art classroom, either as deconstruction for art purposes or deconstruction of concepts that can then be discussed. And then, from the pieces of whatever is deconstructed, we can reconstruct a new idea or artwork, or create something positive or a solution to something negative.


Concepts and viewed artworks can be deconstructed to discover new concepts, interpretations, or solutions to problems.

The most common is the deconstruction of viewed artworks through critiques. This is done through the process of looking at an artwork and describing what you see, looking into the context (culture, artist statement, history, intended meanings) of the work or the artist, then making connections between what is seen and the context to interpretations about the meaning or purpose of the work, and finally applying those interpretations to an evaluation of whether the art succeeded in its message or purpose. And, if the artist is present you can give feedback on how the work can be more successful. This in effect deconstructs the art into the pieces seen and researched in order to find meaning in it.

That critique method can also be applied to real life social justice issues, philosophies, or other concepts for discussion within the classroom, by breaking the concept or issue down into its pieces. What is observed as part of the issue or concept? Who is involved, what is the context or history, or what do you observe as affecting or being affected by the issue or concept? For example, if there’s some community problem the student wants to explore in their artwork, they can be encouraged to go out and observe the affects of that problem, research the context, interview people involved, and think about all of the pieces. Then, they can make connections, such as what’s working or not working and why, and make interpretations based on their observations and findings. Those findings, observations, and interpretations can then be translated into a work of art where the student can express their thoughts about the issue, and even illustrate ideas for a solution to that issue within their artwork.


With art-making, aside from illustrating solutions or ideas about concepts as mentioned above, students can straight up take apart their artwork and it can be very cathartic if they didn’t like the artwork, and they can make new artwork with the pieces or come up with new ideas. Meandering books, weavings, or zines are some fun ideas where the student could do some art-making and then cut it up in different ways and turn it into a little book or a weaving to then create new artworks with the rearrangements. There’s one artist, Karen Navarro, who cuts up portraits and rearranges them to create beautiful new designs. And, from a collage standpoint you start with deconstructing magazines or other found images to turn them into something new or comment on the images used in the collage.

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