Distinguished Achievement Program

Art Example

Raymond Estes is studying the bottle tree, an art form indigenous to a specific area of West Texas, and he is creating original sculptures based on his study. Bottle trees have decorated the front yards of homes in the area for many years. A bottle tree is made by pruning the limbs of a tree and placing brightly-colored bottles upside down on the limbs. Raymond’s project will take the full school year.

His proposal, based on research notes and ideas from his sketchbooks, is complete in the first four weeks of school. In his proposal, Raymond describes:

  • Procedures and media to be explored in the communication of his ideas
  • Outside resources to be used, including museums, community resources, books, interviews, photographs, and artist studios
  • Specific short- and long-term goals, including formal consultation dates for Raymond, his teacher, and his mentor and a description of the final exhibit and presentation
  • Brief, biographical sketch of his project mentor, local artist Katrina Raven
  • Assessment criteria, determined by Raymond, his mentor, and his advising teacher, to guide the panel of experts assessing Raymond’s project at the formal exhibit of his artwork.

Raymond, his teacher (Tom Ross), and his mentor (local artist Katrina Raven) determine the most appropriate media for his project and establish a project timeline. After thorough research, he develops the conceptual basis for his exhibit by synthesizing knowledge culled from his own bottle tree photographs, museum visits, art books, and interviews with local residents and artists. Raymond, Katrina, and Mr. Ross track the project closely and evaluate his progress on a regular basis.

Raymond’s artwork consists of his interpretation of bottle tree art: a group of five sculptures adorned with brightly colored glass. The sculptures develop over a period of months during which Raymond researches the history of bottle trees and their community significance. Raymond identifies particularly beautiful bottle trees and interviews the people who made them. He learns a great deal about the different ways people have understood and made use of art. He compares and contrasts folk art with his sculptures, and with other fine art or “high art,” and analyzes their different roles in contemporary art and culture. His artwork evolves as he learns more about sculpture, as he gains dexterity in sculpting techniques, and as he forms clear ideas about how his sculptures express his research and findings. The final exhibit includes a discussion of the influence of his research on the sculptures, the history of bottle tree art, and its significance in both regional and “high art” communities.

With the sculptures complete, Raymond spends the three weeks prior to the exhibit finishing details of the show, preparing his presentation, and confirming the panel of experts. Finally the exhibit opens, and Raymond, his family, friends, teachers, and fellow artists assemble in a gallery near the school.

While his family and friends beam, Mr. Ross, Katrina, and the panel of experts take careful notes on how Raymond communicates his intent, the depth of his reflections, and his recommendations for future DAP participants. After the presentation, the panel members and teachers question Raymond about specifics of his project and about his plans for the future. Then everyone tours the gallery, lingering over the sculptures, sketchbooks, and research journals.

Final assessment of the complete project includes the grade Mr. Ross awarded, Raymond’s reflections, and the panel’s critiques based on the assessment criteria specified in the original project proposal.