Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Seventh Grade Social Justice Collages

Seventh graders looked at the collage "Uptown Looking Downtown" by Romare Bearden (1911-1988). Bearden was an African-American artist who created paintings and collages. One of the subjects he addressed was African-American daily life in Harlem. He was a founding member of an artists' group called The Spiral, which addressed the role of the African-American artist in the Civil Rights movement. 

One of my favorite things about teaching art is discussing artwork with students. As we observed this collage, one student commented that it looked like it had been done by a five year-old. I think he was surprised when I (after a deep breath) told him that I actually agreed. I asked him to explain why he felt this way, and he described how it looked like a mess. Then, I turned this question to the class: Bearden was a skilled artist, so why would he make something look like a mess? Another student had an insightful answer: By creating a messy, layered, chaotic look, Bearden captured the chaos and noise and movement of the city.  A great observation, and a great visual analysis!

Students chose a social justice issue for their topic, and used only magazines to create their work. They also included a call to action which expresses their stand on the issue.

Uptown Looking Downtown, 1965

Eighth Grade Graffiti Tags

This is one of my favorite projects of the year. We begin with a review of the history of graffiti, from 1920's gangs, to train-riding hobos during the Depression, and 1980's kids on the street such as Taki183. I then present the students with examples of graffiti artists who have crossed over from street art to the gallery and museum. We look at art by Banksy, Shepherd Fairey, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Keith Haring. 

I introduced the idea of a graffiti tag. A tag is the signature of a graffiti artist and can be hastily done, especially when done on public property as a form of vandalism. But a tag can also be an essential part of the artist's work, and can even be the basis of the work itself. Students researched different graffiti styles, then created their own tag. Finally, they used their tag as the basis for a mural design. The unique, amazing results are below.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Third Grade Texture Collage Landscapes

I love trying new projects with students, especially interdisciplinary projects. Third graders are learning about the regions of the U.S. in Social Studies/Geography, and I thought that was a perfect tie-in with landscape painting. To create these landscapes, I taught the students seven different techniques for creating texture with watercolor. The techniques include adding salt, scratching the paper, and spraying paint with a toothbrush. They looked at reference images to brainstorm what textures they would find in their region- they chose from Southwest, Southeast, or Northeast since that is what they have studied so far. Then, they matched up texture techniques that would create those textures. They created a painted page for each texture, and they tore and cut these pages to create layers representing sky, mountains, land, etc. I think the results are just incredible!

Fourth Grade Lunar New Year Paper Cuttings

Fourth graders learned about the Chinese tradition of cut paper art. We saw examples of cut paper chrysanthemum flowers, and we watched a video of a master artist in action. Then, we discussed the Chinese zodiac, wherein each year in a cycle of 12 years is assigned an animal. This year is the year of the pig. The students looked at examples of cut-paper pigs, and drew their designs. Then, they cut them out of paper. They used the traditional red color, which means happiness and good luck in China, and they also got to choose one additional color to create a second, non-traditional pig. 

This project reinforced drawing skills such as proportion and detail, and it was also great practice for cutting small shapes and details.