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Lesson Plans

comments on story from "Art and Ecology Curriculum Integration"

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Wed, 14 Oct 1998 01:17:09 EDT

Lima West Middle School, Lima Ohio

I find this example of integration interesting because it utilizes a
unique medium, topiary trees. The example was given from a topiary garden at
the Old Deaf School Park in Columbus, Ohio. The artist recreated a classic
work " A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" in three
dimensions out of trees. The idea of translating a painting into three
dimensions is interesting and interactive, but to create the image out of
living trees adds a sense of permanence and of growth and change. These
concepts reflect a community in a unqiue way.
This project would not only teach children about art history, but would
create a formidable technical challenge to translate a painting into an
environment. I believe it would also integrate other lessons into the
project. For example, science and horticulture would have to play a role in
the project. Perhaps most importantly, it challenges the notions of fine or
classical art and the way in which our society interacts with this type of
If I were to attempt to tackle this type of ecological art project with
my students, I would consider other types of objects to create the figures.
Theremay not always be an abundance of trees with which to create a topiary
garden. I may try to keep the project on a smaller scale by creating our own
objects in the classroom to be placed outside to create the work. I would
limit the size of the area we needed to fill in order to keep the project from
becoming overwhelming.
I would choose to recreate a work of historical significance. We could
discuss the historical context of the original piece and may choose to
translate its significance to a modern day scene or event. A rather poor
example, might be using the painting "A Sunday Afternoon..." but creating the
scene with figures from the late twentieth century relaxing in a park. There
might be other works that might have a stronger historical context, like the
works of Goya for example, however, because of its place in a larger
community, an educator may have to choose the work carefully. This may lead
to an interesting discussion with students about community responsiblity in
public works.

Eric Johnson Art Ed 596 University of Arizona, Tucson