By its nature, Art* is the language we use that gives our ideas form. Studying Art gives the learner diverse knowledge, skills and values by experiencing a wide variety of ideas, practices and media. Art enables learners to develop many skills that are conceptual and practical. It promotes creative and critical thinking, supports the development of problem-solving skills, and strengthens the learner’s ability to communicate ideas through their own work to an intended audience. This encourages them to develop a respect for their fellow learners and the wider community; to become more empathetic. In learning to express themselves, learners also make connections in their learning across other subjects at senior cycle.
Art is a process through which learners research, create and respond. The generation of new ideas and methods and the making of new work and objects is the definition of what it is to be innovative. Art helps learners to advance their understanding of themselves and their values as well as the ethics and values of the society in which they, as they grow, take a more active role. This encourages them to develop a respect for their fellow learners and an understanding of their place within the wider community.
This specification is built around the artistic process and how it supports learning. Art is both creative and expressive and it provides an opportunity for the development of the skills necessary for creative engagement with the world. The study of art promotes the development and understanding of a sense of the aesthetic.
In this specification, Visual Studies refers to the visual expressions of all aspects of culture, created by past, recent modern and contemporary societies. It opens the vast world of culture and developments in art through the work of artists, past and present. It enables us to gain an understanding of how many cultures have represented our internal thoughts and ideas in an external way across time. The common language of Art enables people from different backgrounds to share in each other's customs and traditions and find common ground and understanding. However, the language of Art is also a critical one, concerned with issues of quality and the development of informed opinions. Critical and analytical skills will be developed by learners as they evaluate their own work, as well as the work of others.
As they learn in Art, learners gain a sense of achievement, enjoyment and personal fulfilment as well as an understanding of the artistic process and value of the work they have researched, created and to which they respond. Art is both a reflective and reflexive process, where learners think about their ideas, work and learning and then act to develop and improve them further. This need to improve on their work fosters in learners a desire to stretch beyond their current thinking and explore new concepts, techniques and media. It helps them to build their own artistic processes. It engenders in them a need to take creative risks and learn from mistakes to improve on their work over time. This is further enhanced today by the choice and range of digital approaches available to the artist.
Leaving Certificate Art has been designed to further develop the learning of those who have previously studied Visual Art at junior cycle. However, it also addresses the interests and needs of learners who wish to study Art at senior cycle for the first time. Art can fuel a lifelong passion in learners as they enter further education or the world of work, which includes work related to the creative arts and other industries.
* The use of the word art throughout this specification is taken to include the areas of fine art, design and craft in a range of traditional, contemporary, new and/or digital media.