Is There Time for TikTok in Art Education?

As far as social media goes, I am somewhat of a Luddite. The most novel social media app I use is Instagram, which at this point is eleven years old. And even in joining the Instagram community, I was late to the game (finally initiating myself in 2014). While I am fairly content with sticking to the triad of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I acknowledge and understand the intricacies and appeal of newer apps. Specifically TikTok, which I actually learned about from the students I was teaching.

What has intrigued me to at least explore social media apps like TikTok further, is the potential to utilize them as a pedagogical resource and find relevant examples of the integration of art, technology and contemporary life. While I believe it is better to limit social media usage for a multitude of reasons (inside and outside of academic settings), there is a notable amount of educational content that can be created and experienced through various social media outlets.

For example, there is a trend among students in AP Studio Art and AP Art History courses to share their art portfolios and mnemonic strategies on TikTok and Vine (see the YouTube compilations of said TikToks and Vines above).

The AP Studio Art portfolio TikToks are a way for students to feel efficacious about their own work, while hosting an alternative platform for constructive critiques and conversations about contemporary artmaking practices. In school, their work might only get seen by their classmates, teachers and AP College Board evaluators (aka “readers”), while on TikTok their art can reach a much broader audience. The presentation of their portfolio pieces via TikTok reinforces the course goals, objectives and habits of mind that are key aspects to both the College Board requirements for course credit, as well as the general skills that an artist needs to employ in order to successfully communicate their ideas to the public.

The Vine (a now defunct precursor to TikTok) compilation of AP Art History is another fine and fun example of using social media to further relate individual and collaborative knowledge on specific course content. Each individual Vine re-presents one of the 250 works of art that students are required to learn throughout the course as memes using either original recorded content or stock video footage. Referencing these works in an oft-humorous fashion students’ are demonstrating their deep understandings of art historical analysis. In fifteen second clips they are providing an overview of an artwork’s form, function, content and context. These are the four essential components that students are required to differentiate and explain in regards to a work of art’s qualities and cultural significance. The use of memes to contextualize artwork also fulfills the artistic habit of mind of making connections between elements within a work of art to both personal and collective prior knowledge and contemporary experiences. I previously wrote a post about the value of teaching and learning with memes, which you can read here.

Via Reed Art History‘s Instagram page.

Organizing and sharing artwork and ideas on Instagram can also be beneficial for students and educators. I have seen educators set up Instagram pages for their classes, which function like a virtual moodboard, as well as a portfolio that documents experiential learning. Instagram accounts, such as Reed Art History, from Reedy High School in Frisco TX, combine informative content related to coursework and note-taking, and highlight student work that makes knowledge of art history relevant to their prior knowledge and lived experiences.

@pheauxtogenic

I paused sometimes cause I did this from memory lol. Please enjoy this queen. #blackart #arthistory #art #diptych #performanceart

♬ In A Sentimental Mood – John Coltrane

TikTok and Instagram also enable professionals to share their content-specific art knowledge with a wide audience. Art and cultural experts such as Analisa of Accessible Art History (Instagram and TikTok), Cass Rush, Erika Gaffney and Colette Bernard make artistic content and knowledge both accessible and engaging for scholars and general art appreciators alike.

Social media is here to stay, and for many of us it has become an extension of our daily lives. Just like all other forms of media, it can provide us with beneficial outcomes when used in moderation, as the aforementioned examples have hopefully shown.


Suggested Reading:

“How Social Media is Changing Our Art Experience,” Artwork Archive.

DeWilde, Jordan. “Why You Should Use Social Media as an Advocacy Tool,” Art of Education.

Liu. Jasmine. “TikToker Pokes Fun at Western Attitudes Towards Non-Western Art,” Hyperallergic.

Segalovich, Isabella. “The Art Historical Gems on TikTok,” Hyperallergic.

Teplitzky, Alex. “Social Media Best Practices for Artists,” Creative Capital.

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