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Lesson Plans

previous questions

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Fri, 29 Mar 1996 11:30:00 -0600 (CST)

So many thoughts! I ask forgiveness in advance for overloading your=
Re: A general museum project: The Indianapolis Museum of Art Ed Dept.=
suggests the following exercise which can be incorporated in a variety of=
ways. Have the students select a portrait. They are NOT to read the=
accompanying title, artist, date, etc. Give them a sheet of questions about=
the person in the portrait such as: What is this person's name? When and=
where was he/she born? Where does he/she live now? How old is the person?=
What do they do for a living? What are their favorite books? Hobbies?=
Music? What do they do for fun? What did his/her mother always tell them=
never to do? What peice of advice would this person like to give the=
viewer? etc... When I did this exercise at the museum, we then had to=
BECOME the person in the portrait. The docent asked us to stand in front=
of the picture and answer the questions using appropriate mannerisms,=
accents, etc. The results were hilarious in some cases, and I have never=
engaged with a portrait more deeply. You could easily extend this beyond=
portraiture by having students write a short story about a genre scene or=
use a landscape as a setting for one, etc.=20

Re: Impressionism. GREAT responses already (I especially loved Sandra=
Hildreth's grandmother image.) One further aspect you might consider is=
the relation of technology to art. Others have already mentioned the=
profound effect of the camera on Impressionism - indeed on the entire=
question of what art IS. There were other influences as well. As someone=
already noted, the Impressionists came from the Realists' tradition of=
painting only what could be seen. Landscape painters had traditionally=
SKETCHED outdoors but PAINTED their canvases in their studios. The=
Realists of the mid 19th century were among the first to actually PAINT=
landscapes OUTSIDE and one of the reasons they were able to do this was the=
invention of collapsable tins for transporting oil paint. Before that,=
artists used unwieldy animal bladders, so painting on location was=
impractical at best. Painting on the spot certainly helped artists=
perceive the effects of light on the subject. Another advance was the=
development of cadmium colors, which were brighter pigments. The science=
of optics had matured to the point where people truly understood the nature=
of white light and this had a serious effect as well, since the real=
"subject" of an Impressionist painting IS the light. (Someone once summed=
up the Impressionist revolution in art by stating that earlier painters had=
used light to tell us more about the object; Impressionists used objects to=
tell us more about the light.) Finally, there was the profound effect of=
Darwin's theories of Evolution, which shattered for many the belief in the=
permanance of things. If everything is in a constant state of flux and=
development, then all we can hope to truly perceive is how the world looks=
at THIS moment in THIS light, etc., a brief "impression" of an=
ever-changing reality not unlike a snapshot - which brings us back to the=
camera. Anyway, you get the idea. It seems to me that the Impressionst=
period is a time of technological revolution not unlke our own computer=
age, where new tools, discoveries, etc. cause us to further questin the=
nature of art. Maybe you could ask your students to think about the ways=
in which the computer has revolutionized OUR lives and why some people=
dislike/distrust it. What are OUR views on computer-generated images? etc.

Finally,Re: B. Reed's questions. Like Diane's questions previously, you=
could probably write a book on each of these three issues and still not=
reach a definitive "answer". Since I've already used so much space, I'd=
just like to comment on question #1 at this time: When can one truly call=
themselves an "artist"? (I read this differently from a question such as=
"When is someone a great artist?" Or "when does the world consider someone=
an artist?" Those are separate books!) I believe that for purposes of tax=
deductions, the legal answer to this question has to do with how one earns=
the majority of his/her income, but since this would rule out Van Gogh, I=
think we can assume there must be a better response. I have met people who=
believe that the answer to this is extremely loose, ie. when I draw=
anything, I am an artist, when I dance at a wedding, I am a dancer, when I=
sing..well, you get the idea. They feel that EVERYONE is an artist,=
dancer,etc. I find this view demeaning to REAL artists, dancers, and=
singers. In over 20 years as a parent and teacher, I have done my share of=
bandaging, dosing and counselling and I have never considered myself a=
doctor or a psychiatrist. While there have been great artists who had no=
academic training, I think that being an "artist" transcends the mere act=
of occasionally painting or sculpting. So we might glibly say, "Well, you=
can call yourself an artist when you truly create 'art'." Now all you have=
to do is define "art" and you're in business. Good luck! Seriously, this=
is a truly pivotal question. I perceive my job more as one of creating=
educated visual consumers than producers but I know SOME of my students=
may, in fact, pursue art beyond eighth grade and I would want everything I=
do in these formative years to encourage that option and open up its=
possibilities. So if at least part of my job it educating future artists,=
it behooves me to know what that means. I guess over the years, I have=
come to believe that the answer lies in passionate commitment. I have many=
students who are CAPABLE of being artists; they enjoy art, have the=
psychomotor skills necessary to perceive and produce, and they are=
intelligent. But their PASSION might be music or science or literature,=
and even if their skills in their chosen area are not as great, they will=
become musicians or scientists or writers. (Of course, it is therefore=
important that children be exposed to a wide variety of quality learning=
experiences, so that they may discover where their passions lie.) I think a=
person CALLS him/herself an artist when he or she can conceive of no other=
possible lifechoice, when making art is not what they "do" but what they=
"are". I used to think I was an artist, but I know now that I never was,=
not in the sense that (I think) you mean. I am a teacher.=20

Eileen Prince=20
Sycamore School, Indianapolis