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Dear Patricia: What a coincidence- I worked with a Middle School Teacher
here in Sacramento a couple of years ago who had used for years a lesson on
Mona Lisa in conjunction with her unit on the Renaissance. That first year
I gave background for da Vinci, and her students made "modern Monas". Last
summer I came across the Art Education in Action videos and found Tape 4
entitled Art History and Art Criticism. The first lesson on this tape was
Debra Barrett-Hayes teaching a lesson on Mona Lisa and contemporary
appropriations of her. The lesson is excellent and I highly recommend it to
you - the tape and the accompanying teacher's guide give you all you need
to do the lesson itself, in addition to your own collection of
appropriations. If you don't have a catalogue from the Getty Center, call
After seeing the tape, I adapted her lesson for Middle School and added my
own emphasis on interpretation of contemporary art. One book which I
happened to have in my own library helped a lot with my search for
appropriations, both commercial and fine art: "Mona Lisas", compiled by
Mary Rose Storey, Introduction by David Bourdon, Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
1980, ISBN 0-8109-2194-4.
Now that I have written my lesson, I have found appropriations everywhere -
pull-out advertisements for ARTnew, newspaper ads for a variety of
businesses. Once you decide to start looking, the commercial appropriations
pop out one at a time - just keep looking in the newspapers, magazines, and
greeting cards. You should have your own collection in no time at all. She
is undoubtedly the most consistently appropriated - and she is the only
work of art that has fine art appropriations as well as commercial - and
that fact makes for a very valuable lesson. If I can be of any more help,
let me know.
California Consortium for Visual Arts Education