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Lesson Plans

Re: Meaning/intention (a bit long)

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
carla schiller (
Mon, 1 Mar 1999 21:36:01 -0800 (PST)

Ron talked in his recent post (I didn't copy it here because of various
people complaining to the list of long, "copied" posts) about the meaning
a viewer brings to a work of art juxtaposed with what the artist did/may
have intended. I tried something with my Art History students today that
I'd like to share because it's relevant.

Before studying cave paintings, I had students grind up chalk and, with
their fingers, "paint" on construction paper. Their subject was to be
anything that had meaning to them, provided it didn't include writing.
They did that on Friday. Then today, I put up the pictures, one at a
time, and asked all the students in class except the artist to look at the
picture and describe/discuss it as they would any other work of art -
discussing both form and content. At the end, the artist had a chance to
explain what he/she had in mind and tell us if we were right or wrong.

Sometimes we were right, sometimes way off base. In one picture, am image
of a strawberry engendered a lot of discussion, from "happy", "nature" and
"food" to thinking it was a vanitas reference or a link to Hieronymus
Bosch and "The Garden of Earthly Delights." What did the artist say?
Evidently in second grade she drew a picture of a
strawberry with hands and feet and her teacher told her it was terrible
(isn't that AWFUL?!). Now the image of a strawberry comes to her mind
immediately when asked for symbols that were significant to her life.

Don't you wonder sometimes if the Venus of Willendorf was just an artist's
portrait of a woman who happened to be rotund, and nothing more?

Just musing...

Carla Schiller, Esq.
Teacher, Highly Gifted Magnet
North Hollywood High School, CA
webpage index:
"One never sufficiently appreciates the absence of pain."
---Robinton, from "The Dragons of Pern" by Anne MacCaffrey

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