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Lesson Plans

Re: New Arts Education URL (Pete Gomes)

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Sandra Hildreth (shildret)
Thu, 28 Nov 1996 15:35:20 -0500

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Part of Pete's message:

>Does anyone currently tackle this difficult area in existing lessons. How do
>children react if they think something has taken no discernable artistic

Something that I have done with high school students is to have them work
as a group to complete a large, abstract, Jackson Pollack type painting.
This is after they have had some videos and/or slides and
lecture/discussion about Abstract Expressionism and the events and
political happenings that may have influenced the artists of the time. One
year I was fortunate to have been given some large flats left over from a
school play - 8'x20', stretched with muslin and painted. We primed it
white, layed it down on the floor in the hallway outside my room, and I
gave the students brushes and sticks and all the buckets of leftover latex
paint from the school play. They were told they had to keep it totally
non-representational, had to cover the entire surface (no large empty
areas), yet make it visually interesting. While at first it seemed like
they were randomly dripping and smearing, soon a few took on artistic
leadership roles and began to make suggestions: drip some black here,
there's too much green over there, etc. I tried to stay out of it and let
the group function as a whole. Pretty soon I began to hear comments about a
certain area being too busy, or the colors too muddy - repaint, or add here
or there. They worked in a frenzy - totally experiencing the concept of
action painting without even knowing it. We let it dry after one class
period, then the next day set it up and looked at it. Again, there was some
artistic leadership and finishing touches were added. Many made statements
about how hard a task it had been. How much thought had actually gone into
it. How exciting it was to work on it. Never again did that group express
the opinion that abstract art was easy to do or that it was mindless
messing with paint. We hung it in the hallway for awhile, then when the
school year was over, we got rid of it. It was the experience that was of
merit, not the painting.

Sandra Hildreth <shildret>
Art 7-12, Madrid-Waddington Central School, Madrid, NY 13660
Art Methods, St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY 13617

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