Walker Art Center

Art Today

Schools and Teachers

Media, Materials, and Meaning

Grades K - 12

Media, Materials, and Meaning explores some ways that artists today make paintings and sculptures and how they have redefined these materials and media in their work.

Artists today are aware of how art has been made throughout history, but they also have access to an almost limitless array of media and materials. Many artists make choices such as whether to work with traditional media, use industrial materials and processes, create images using new technologies, or invent hybrid art forms by combining materials and techniques. Rules for how to work with traditional media and materials are commonly broken or redefined, and the nature of art itself is often called into question.

Ultimately the decisions artists make concerning media and materials are often affected by ideas they want to express about their experiences living today.

What materials can be used to make art today?
How does a particular technique or medium limit or expand meaning in art?
How do artists make choices about materials and techniques for their art?

Hans Hofmann
Image of Cape Cod: The Pond Country, Wellfleet

“The artist’s technical problem is how to transform the material with which he works back into the sphere of the spirit.”
—Hans Hofmann