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It seems to me that both Christmas and Easter offer the perfect opportunity
to look at some Christian art themes. No matter what religion you are,
you can't deny that the Bible and stories of the life of Christ are the
meat and potatoes of western art from the Early Christian Era through the
1600's. I don't think I've seen any art lessons discussed on this list
using this period. We seem to have become uncomfortable dealing with any
art that is religious in subject matter. It seems a back lash that we are
all so absorbed in multi-cultural art projects and paying less attention to
our own western culture before about 1600.
As a Jew, I find this art fascinating in a secular, art historical context.
One thing I've done at Christmas with my students is to study the many
renditions of the Nativity scene. The National Gallery has a wonderful
picture book on this topic and there are also some good books on depictions
of Mary. I've posed students in robes and turbans for figure drawing and
they then used those drawings to create a Biblical styled scene. Easter
offers the same opportunity to look at the many depictions of the Crucifix,
the Lamentation or the Entombment--there are literally hundreds of these.
Presenting students with numerous renditions of the same subject,
especially a historical one, provides a wealth of discussion topics and
the opportunity for comparisons in a higher order of thinking. Why did the
artist put this character here?, Is there a patron painted into the scene?,
Can you find stylistic differences between northern and southern Europe?
Why was religious art the only subjects painted? Who paid for these
Someone recently wrote on this list that her objective in teaching art was
to make her students culturally literate enough to get all the art jokes on
the Simpsons. I thought that was great. We are doing our students a
disservice if we ignore our own artistic heritage in favor of crafty
projects from other cultures.
>Give me ambiguity or give me something else.