I am trying to help introduce many
different artists to my high school classes.
I am not sure about relevant, but I have a suggestion to make the
assignment more fun.
Once a year have a "birthday party" for the artists. Each student wraps a
present in the style of the artist studied. Inside the box, the student
places six objects that have relevance to the artist's life. To name a
few: in Renoir's present you might find sunglasses, a straw hat, and tube
paints. In Van Gogh's a bandage,a sunflower, a postcard from Gauguin, and
a letter from Theo. Each student presents his box and explains why he/she
chose the stuff inside - it is a more complex way of synthesizing written
information. The students explain why they decorated the box in the manner
that they did and why the objects signify the artist's life. Sometimes I
ask for brief written statements to acompany the objects. You must also
have a birthday cake for the students to eat at this birthday party. This
idea and the one that follows came from a workshop I attended given by
Michigan educator Lin Culver.
Or have students paint objects that represent some aspect of the artist's
life in the artist's style. Mary Cassatt's Japanese fan painted in the
Japanese printmaking style she embraced. A Kahlo image painted on a flour
tortilla. Sunglasses painted in the manner of one of the plein aire painters.
Or, "baseball" cards. This idea came from Mark Gurain School Arts(2/97).
Before we take a field trip this year, each student will research two
artists and two works. A brief synopsis of what's important will be put on
a baseball card. An image of the artist or work on the front and the text
on the back. Format it in the computer. We'll print them all and give a
full set to every child. The week before the trip at a parent night, we
will have a "Quiz Bowl" format to see which team (group of roommates) knows
the facts best. Those students will be "Kings/Queens of the Trip," giving
them first choice of everything - room location, theatre tickets, tables at
the restaurants, seats on the bus... It seems to be working.