Mike, My 8th graders did a "Living Art" project. There is a professional group in Laguna Beach, California that does this type of production. Sunday Morning did a feature on it. I wrote CBS and they sold the segment to me for $20. It was worth it. The students picked a painting, usually with people in it. They research the artist, interpret the painting and write a paper as a group of 2 to 5 students. They then recreate the painting in large format, they create the background with a variety of materials and then put themselves as the characters into the famous artwork by creating costumes. The students set up there background and props then pose for 5 minutes as a curtain is lifted to show them. One student is picked to narrate the history of the artists and explain why the artist created the work. We entered a contest at a museum for middle school and highschoolers. I have to brag, we won first, second and third place.The kids won $ and the school won $500. My favorite rendition was the Three Musicians by Pablo Picasso.
Another project I really liked for art history research was a bi-fold with a mirror on one side, the students painted a portrait of the artist on one side and it reflected in the mirror. Around the mirror was a 3" border and the students recreated bits and pieces of the artist into a collage painting. For example, one student picked patterns from a variety of Matisse's painting and used them. On the back of the bi-fold was a biography of the artist. I think I have examples on my 8th grade page.
From: Marvin Bartel [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sunday, June 22, 2003 10:14 AM
To: ArtsEdNet Talk
Subject: Re: art research project ideas
Many students enjoy acting out something about an artist. Students form small groups. Each group selects an artist from a list of names supplied by the teacher. They research the artist and prepare a short skit. After the skit they hand out review sheet for the class or post a poster for the class to review. The skit can be like a talk show interview or the artist in her studio explaining a painting she did. The group can discuss a large reproduction or a projected image based on a prepared script. The actor playing the artist answers questions about her sources of ideas, composition, difficulties, special interests, her own childhood, her training, and so on.
I have not seen this done in eighth grade, but I have seen it work well with older students.
I would like to do an 8th grade art history research project next year. I'm looking for things that people on the list have tried and feel have been successful. I have 8th graders for only a quarter, so i would like it to be something they do on their own using library and internet sources. I would also like it to be weighted more on the writing side than the art production side, but I'm open to anything anyone will share.