Art Madness at Suffield

Played mostly during March and branded as March Madness, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament is one of the most famous annual sporting events in the United States. Even among non-sports fans, it is extremely common in popular culture to predict the outcomes of each game and millions of Americans participate in a bracket pool contest every year.

Influenced by an article published by The Art of Education University’s contributor Nick Gehl entitled “How to Bring March Madness into the Art Room,” Suffield students enrolled in Erica Leigh Caginalp’s ceramics classes recently participated in a game called “Art Madness.” Inspired by the unpredictable brackets of March Madness, Art Madness is an engaging activity aimed at helping students learn more about specific artists and different artistic styles.

Starting in the first round, two opposing artists go head-to-head and the artist receiving the most student votes moves on to the next round. After each of the winning artists are selected from the first round, the process continues in the second round and goes until there is one remaining overall champion. Students have the opportunity to research the artists and give arguments as to why their favored artist should move on in the bracket. Along the way, students receive points for each correct prediction. Meeting in the finals were renowned artists Beth Cavener and Ngozi-Omeje Ezema with Beth earning the championship title.

In his article Gehl concludes, “It can sometimes feel counter-intuitive to take a break from making art in the classroom. However, fitting in activities like Art Madness can be an investment for the future to help students build their bank of resources, learn about their interests, and further expose them to the art world.”