Grades/Level: Upper Elementary (3–5), Middle School (6–8)
Subjects: Visual Arts, English–Language Arts
Time Required: 3–5–Part Lesson
Two to three class periods
Author: J. Paul Getty Museum Education Staff

For the Classroom


Curriculum Home
Lesson Plans
Image Bank
About Contemporary Art
Glossary (RTF-38KB)

Lesson Overview

Students work individually and in groups to compare and contrast two chairs that were made in different time periods. They will then create a collage depicting an historic scene inspired by artist Nicole Cohen's video installation that incorporates historic and modern imagery.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:
• compare and contrast two chairs made in different time periods.
• design chairs inspired by a modern-day replica of an 18th-century chair.
• construct a group collage of an imaginary setting from the past.
• write a story about a time travel adventure that answers the questions, "who, what, when, where, why, and how?"

Materials

• Images of room paneling made in France about 1725–1726, and the 18th-century desk chair attributed to Etienne Meunier
• Printouts of 18th-century chairs that inspired Nicole Cohen: The Chairs: Inspiration for Nicole Cohen's Installation Please Be Seated (one copy per group of three to four students)
• Background information about and images of Nicole Cohen's installation Please Be Seated
• LCD projector and overhead projector
• Drawing pencils
• Colored pencils
• Paint
• Large sheets of butcher paper
• Scraps of assorted fabrics
• Scissors
• Photocopies of photographs of each student
• Poster board, cardboard, and various found materials
• Glue and/or tape

Lesson Steps

Note: Words in bold below are defined in the glossary for this curriculum (see "For the Classroom" links above).

1. Display images of the French, 18th-century room paneling and the desk chair by Etienne Meunier that can be seen in the room. Discuss with students the details they notice, when the room was created (in 1725–1726), where the room was located (in France), who they think lived in the room, how the room was used, and why they think the room was used in this way. Lead a discussion about the room and Meunier's desk chair using the first two paragraphs from the "Questions for Teaching," found in the Image Bank or by clicking on the image of the desk chair in the Materials section above.

2. Split students into groups of three or four students. Assign each group a printout of one of the 18th-century chairs from the Getty's collection on this Web page: The Chairs: Inspiration for Nicole Cohen's Installation Please Be Seated. Instruct each team to describe their assigned chair in detail, including how they think the chair looks and feels.

3. Pass out drawing pencils and paper, and instruct each student to sketch his or her group's assigned chair. To facilitate close-looking, tell students to notice the details of the chair and include those details in their own sketches.

4. Display an image of Nicole Cohen's white replica of Meunier's Desk Chair (refer to the Materials section above). Facilitate a discussion about the creative process of making an object that is a reproduction of an original object. Which elements of the original chair design did Cohen keep in her replica? Which elements are new? Have students write out the similarities and differences between the two chairs on a piece of paper.

5. Have students return to their own drawings of Meunier's chair. Pass out colored pencils and tell each student to add new details to his or her sketch, just as Cohen chose to add new elements to her replica of Meunier's chair.

6. Display an image of Nicole Cohen's installation Please Be Seated (refer to the Materials section above). Ask students to share their observations about the space. Explain that visitors would sit in the white replica chairs in front of video cameras and watch video screens where they could see themselves inserted in historical chairs in different settings. These settings include galleries in the Getty Museum and real rooms in French palaces, such as Versailles.

7. Explain to students that Cohen uses video technology to transport visitors to different locations. Tell students they will use their imaginations to transport themselves to another place and time. Direct the class to take out their drawings of chairs and invite each student to imagine that the chair in his or her drawing is capable of time travel. Have students imagine themselves sitting on their chairs. How far back in time would they like to travel? Where would they like to go?

Tell students they will work in teams to create a group collage. Each group must choose one location and time period from the past for a time-travel adventure, then draw a scene from their chosen time period on a large sheet of butcher paper.

8. Re-display the image of the French, 18th-century room paneling. Ask students which objects are in the foreground (the part nearest the viewer), the middle ground (what is between the foreground and background), and the background (the part that appears most distant from the viewers).

9. Pass out scissors and glue or tape. Instruct each student to cut out his or her individual chair and place it within the group's imaginary setting from the past. Ask students to consider which chairs they will put in the foreground, middle ground, and background of their collages.

10. Have students follow Nicole Cohen's example of placing contemporary sitters in locations from a past time period. Using photocopies of personal photographs of themselves, students will place their images on their respective chairs in the group's imaginary setting.

11. Tell each student to write a story about time travel based on his or her group's collage. Instruct them to include details about who went on the adventure, what time period they travelled to, where they went, why they went there, what they did when they arrived at the location, and how all the individual chairs ended up in the same setting. Select several students to orally present their time-traveling adventure.

Please Be Seated (detail) / Cohen
Nicole Cohen's reinterpretation of one of the Getty's 18th-century French chairs.

Assessment

Assess students on the quantity and accuracy of written similarities and differences between two chairs from different time periods. Assess their drawings based on their attention to detail and unique additions.

Group collages should be assessed based on the inclusion of a setting from the past and a clear foreground, middle ground, and background.

Assess students' stories based on whether they provided answers to the following questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how?

Extensions

Students can create clothing or accessories for their images in order to enhance their collages. They could add these details using colored pencils, decorative papers, or fabric.

For upper grades, have students talk about the time frame (the 18th century) in which the original chairs were made and discuss the possible owners of these objects.

Standards Addressed


Visual Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools

Grade 4

4.0 Aesthetic Valuing
4.2 Identify and describe how a person's own cultural context influences individual responses to works of art.

Grade 5

2.0 Creative Expression
2.7 Communicate values, opinions, or personal insights through an original work of art.

Grade 6

1.0 Artistic Perception
1.2 Discuss works of art as to theme, genre, style, idea, and differences in media.
1.3 Describe how artists can show the same theme by using different media and styles.

2.0 Creative Expression
2.4 Create increasingly complex original works of art reflecting personal choices and increased technical skill.

3.0 Historical and Cultural Context
3.3 Compare, in oral or written form, representative images or designs from at least two selected cultures.


English—Language Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools

Grade 4

Writing
2.0 Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
2.1 Write narratives.

Listening and Speaking
2.0 Speaking Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
2.1 Make narrative presentations.

Grade 5

Writing
1.0 Writing Strategies
1.1 Create multiple-paragraph narrative compositions.

Listening and Speaking
2.0 Speaking Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
2.1 Deliver narrative presentations.

Grade 6

Writing
2.0 Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
2.1 Write narratives.

Listening and Speaking
2.0 Speaking Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)
2.1 Deliver narrative presentations.