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Re: Creative ways to present art history

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From: Christa Wise (cwise_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Mon Mar 17 2003 - 09:39:33 PST


Michelle,

I have posted this to the list before so if it sounds familiar to the
"regulars," please delete.

My h.s. students have a lot of fun with an unbirthday party. They randomly
draw an artists name from a "hat." They must look up this artist and read
enough about him/her that they can come up with six items that would make
good gifts for the artist. They wrap the six presents in a box that is
constructed/painted in the artist's style. At the "party," each student
opens his/her box and explains why these items would be appreciated by the
artist and show examples of the artist's work to help everyone understand
the style of the wrapping for the present. Naturally we also have cake and
milk.

For instance: In a clear plastic box with black electrical tape edges
("beams,") a student presented the International School work of the
architect Philip Johnson (best known for his glass and beam home in
Connecticut). Included were a small set of blueprints, round black
eyeglasses(his signature look), and other stuff I don't remember. In the
Monet box we found a small Japanese bridge, artificial waterlilies, and
sunglasses that this "plein aire" painter would have found useful. Renoir
got arthritis cream among other stuff, Frank Lloyd Wright got blocks, and
Mary Cassatt had a baby doll.

I think this kind of project requires the students to read and use higher
order thinking skills to synthesize what these artists might have valued in
their lives -- maybe makes them more real than a report often simply
down-loaded from the internet. Adapting the style of the artist to the
wrapping for the present is a different spin on the time-honored assignment
of working "in the manner of" a famous artist.

We display the final pieces with a small 3 x 5 card next to each of the six
present items to explain why these things were chosen for the box. There is
a lot of interest in looking at each others' presents, and I think this is
a pretty good way to expose students to a lot of artists at once. It isn't
deep, but I think it is pretty effective and fun!

Christa

At 06:44 PM 3/16/03 -0000, you wrote:
> Thanks! -Michelle ---
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