Stimulus Materials for Visual Arts
Stimulus materials are resources used in assessment activities to help establish context, purpose, and focus. They should be developmentally appropriate and essential to the contextual framework of the task. Stimulus materials should be selected to represent the genres, styles, and forms of both Western traditions and those of a variety of other cultures. Materials for visual arts items may include still and moving images, literature (stories, poems, and dramatic forms like skits and plays), and an array of artifacts.
In most instances, stimulus materials are presented to students at the time of test administration. However, some tasks may require advance viewing or other exposure to the material. Students should not be expected to be familiar with particular works other than those for which preview instructions are provided.
Obtaining Permission for Use of Copyrighted Material
Every published work of art is subject to restrictions for use. Before downloading or reproducing any material for any purpose, it is important to research the conditions under which it may be used. Works considered to be products of creative expression (or “intellectual property”) are protected by prevailing copyright laws. Materials may take various forms such as text-based material, film or audio recordings, visual images, etc., and may be accessed from various sources such as books, commercially available video or audio tapes or CDs, or through the Internet. Prior to making a stimulus selection for an assessment task, it is important to research the conditions under which materials may be downloaded, duplicated, and distributed. The penalty for violating copyright law can be very severe.
Possible sources of stimulus materials for visual arts include:
- Commercial collections of still, high quality, photographic reproductions, as well as reproductions of non-professional works of art (e.g., created within a school or community context);
- Film recordings (commercially available or made specifically for assessment purposes) that provide “gallery walks” by means of which students may view multiple works of art or more complex installations;
- Reproductions of artifacts (e.g., designed objects, crafted work);
- Texts, including literary selections such as stories, poems, or plays, and expository selections such as reviews, articles, historical pieces, and biographies about artists and the making of or responding to art.
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