IB Theory of Knowledge Art Exhibition showcases collection of works by students

As part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course, the senior IB TOK class of Wilson HS displayed their first Art Exhibition from Mar. 15 to Mar. 16 in the downstairs staff lounge.

The TOK Art Exhibition’s overall theme was exploring the philosophy of learning itself, challenging students to answer prompts about how knowledge is constructed.

Along with a choice between one of 35 different knowledge prompts, TOK students chose three real-world objects—ranging from a Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” hat to a Jewish prayer shawl or tallit—to use as evidence when answering their knowledge prompt.

“The challenging part was narrowing down my objects to best answer my question: ‘Can new knowledge change established values and beliefs?’” senior and TOK student Mia Serna said. “In the end, I chose a vinyl from my favorite artist The Weeknd, a ‘Fiddler on The Roof’ Playbill and an incredibly reliable piece of literature called the ‘Little Book of Philosophy.’” 

During the exhibition, TOK students stood behind tables, showcasing their chosen objects on pillars upcycled from plastic crates. Panels behind each student displayed written commentary explaining how each object answered their knowledge prompt.

“The exhibition process taught me how to utilize phrases that are recognizable to the listener in order for them to better understand how TOK applies to [the] world,” Serna said. “It was exciting to see the listener’s eyebrows jump up when they encountered a moment of realization.” 

Open during the school day and after school, the exhibition was an opportunity for the community to learn more about Wilson’s IB TOK course and its students, as well as to see firsthand some of the academic pursuits they undertake. 

Students listening to presenters at the IB TOK (Theory of Knowledge) Exhibition on Mar 15 and 16. (Photo by Amber Lau)

According to TOK Teacher Josipa Casey, preparation for the exhibition began in July and was an “intense process:” including training and coordination with custodial staff and district personnel to transform the space. 

“I was feeling nervous only because this is the first year we’ve done the exhibition based on the IB curriculum changes to TOK,” Casey said. “There was also the nerves of being on display and asking so many stakeholders to attend.”

As the exhibition was very similar to an art gallery, prior to the showcase, the district’s Art Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) Lisa Ruiz taught the TOK class how to put on an aesthetically pleasing show that is inviting to the audience.

“The intentional design of the exhibition space, the display of found objects as artifacts and accompanying text controls the viewing experience of the audience,” Ruiz said. “The students explaining their projects enthusiastically is the lynchpin of the experience. They will be empowered by the experience of curating an experience for others.”

Exhibition attendees ranged from HLPUSD Board of Education member Dr. Joseph K. Chang to students seeking extra credit for their English classes or parents and faculty interested in the art gallery itself. 

While viewing the exhibition, freshman Michael Boueiz was able to learn how “connected everyone can be by culture, religion, food” and other shared interests “without even knowing it.”

“As someone who loves art, I thought it would be a good experience to get to know a little more about the creative side of classmates,” Boueiz said. “[The exhibition] was not [what] I was expecting, but nonetheless, it was still amazing.”

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