Art in Process: Introduction to the Importance of Symbolism in the Creating Art

by J. L. Vasile, Fine Arts Instructor


This article is the first of a series that will examine the process of the creation of art and the pulling apart of creativity. To those for whom it does not come ‘naturally’, creativity and art appear intimidating and distant, these articles will uncover that veil and reveal how one can be inspired and construct their own artistic practice through gradual evolution. Our students’ work will be showcased each time to demonstrate that process and exhibit the great work they are doing.


Daltons Studio Art students started the semester learning how to “think like an artist” and, the importance of why artists pick the symbols they choose in creating artwork.


The students perceived and thought deeply about what the symbols mean and how you can combine two or more different symbols to create a new innovative symbol in their art. Combining various symbols it creates a new definition and meaning within a symbol. An example of this is Dali’s connecting the symbols of the ‘clock’ and ‘melting’. This creates a new fresh perception of “time is fading”, “time is an illusion”.


Through looking at the iconic surrealistic artist Salvator Dali’s masterpiece “Persistence of Memory”, students learned in depth the successful application of skills and art concepts. Discussing Dali’s creative vision and intention, his aesthetics, imagination, creativity, and originality. With that introduction to the art class these concepts will be applied to the artwork they create throughout the semester.


Viewing Dali’s work the students are able to articulate his vision and use of materials and the craftsmanship on display in his iconic painting. The best way to study and create successful art is by looking back at art history and the masters of art. The concepts taught the first week also connect to the Dalton electives rubric.


The first few weeks of Studio Arts class the students explore their individual ideas and concepts. The students ask themselves the essential questions like “Why do artists choose the symbols for their work”, “What will the symbols mean to a viewer”, ”Why are symbols in art important”, “How do artists incorporate and combine a few different symbols to invent a new symbol”.


Since the students are inspired by a famous masterpiece the composition is clear. The students can be inspired to change the symbols and arrangement of Salvatore Dali’s original composition OR take the concepts from a list of their favourite symbols they write and apply them to their artwork.


During an entire lecture classes the students gave their ideas and options perceiving artwork and then applied it to the thumbnail sketches they have created (the next article will be on this thumbnail sketch process). Starting the semester off with the “Importance of Symbolism” lecture and presentation introduces the importance of using strong symbol choices and those lessons will be applied to all their artwork created throughout the semester.


Please enjoy some of the students' art pieces:










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Haidian District, Beijing Huangzhuang, Beijing, China  (Zip code: 100190)

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