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Lesson Plans


Re: Real Life Art

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
brenda jones (oxydol)
Sat, 14 Aug 1999 19:23:20 -0600


I realize that this topic has already been discussed and that I am a little
slow in responding, sorry. And sorry for the long post. This topic seems very
important to me and I consider it at great length particularly at the
beginning of each school year. I preface my thoughts here by giving credit to
Dr. Marilyn Stewart and past Kutztown University Getty Institutes.

When I think of "real life art" I think of really connecting to what issues
and thoughts students are currently dealing with. There's a broad spectrum. I
use a chart or "map" that Dr. Stewart (and her colleagues) developed. It's
titled "Mapping Identity". Basically, it asks students to think about who they
are in regard to different aspects of self. In the center of a sheet of paper
is a square (in which they can make a visual image of any type) and
surrounding the center are other open spaces with the following topics: visual
appearance, political viewpoint, geographic location, gender, religion,
ethnicity, family, economic background, occupation (current or future), age,
etc. These are all qualities of who we are. I usually put a diagram on an
overhead and the students sketch it in their sketchbook and respond either by
writing or visually to each topic. Sometimes they get very creative and may
make a mobile or a sculpture, but usually they just write or draw simple
symbols for each topic. There's no pressure, in other words if there is an
area to which they prefer not to respond, that's fine. But, the majority
respond to everything. I post my own chart in the classroom too, in case they
are interested. I read over their things, but I don't usually comment. What's
important to me is the way this ties in to each subsequent lesson:
For example, I will probably start the year with information about Ann
Hamilton (because she was featured in the summer issue of Art in America) and
because her work and methods will be very unusual to the students. In one
article she talks about the importance of physical labor in her works. So, I
will probably ask the students in an early project to think about their own
occupation or work. What is their own current or future job/occupation like?
is it monotonous? joyful? fun? a "drag"? How could that aspect of their
occupation be portrayed in an art work? etc. As for media, I will probably
have the students doing drawing and will stress composition. For another
project (later), I am planning on them researching an artist of their own
ethnicity and creating actual mini-museums/galleries showing the work of the
artist. They will have to write the didactics and come up with publicity and
educational information regarding the artist. The "museums" will be put on
display in our library. This connects to the area of ethnicity on their
charts. Last year I used the "maps" and started the year by looking at work by
Liza Lou. We went to KC to see her work and for a "project" we focused on the
issue of gender (although Lou's works lend themselves to many other topics).
Anyway, I find that if I kind of refer back to the "map" for each or most
projects, students already are dealing with "real life". At any rate, this
seems to work for me most of the time. (I haven't found anything that works
all of the time).

In closing, I teach hs. 2100 students go to our school. We have International
Baccalaureate (2 students in our school this year made perfect SAT scores),
English as a Second or Other Language students, a wide range of ethnic
backgrounds, lots of gang issues, a wide variety of socio-economic
backgrounds, etc. We are pretty diverse. I like that a lot. Our classes are
not very small. We have three art teachers and each of our classes average
between 30-35 students. We each have six classes during the day, with grades 9-12.


  • Maybe reply: Wizzlewolf: "Re: Re: Real Life Art"