These two lessons for middle school students encourage students to think about how artists engage with religion in two very different ways—as participants in the creation of organized religious spaces, and as observers and documenters of the religious rituals of another culture.

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Lessons 1 of 2

Spiritual Space
Grades/Level: Middle School (6–8)
Subjects: Visual Arts, History—Social Science
Lesson Overview: In this lesson students learn about the important role of religious artworks in the early Renaissance in Italy. Through the visual analysis of an early Renaissance altarpiece, they learn about connections between new modes of visual representation and changing religious practice in the Catholic Church. Students research an early Renaissance artist working in Florence who created devotional, religious imagery and write a short paper.

Madonna & Saints / Daddi

Looking at Ritual and Ceremony
Grades/Level: Middle School (6–8)
Subjects: Visual Arts, History—Social Science
Lesson Overview: Students explore 19th-century photographer Edward Curtis's documentation of a ritual performed by Native Americans. They then consider how ceremony and ritual practice are depicted and understood by those outside of a religious culture. Students use photography to document their own religious or spiritual rituals, and then examine one another's images and interpret their peers' spiritual beliefs based on the photographs.

Eclipse Dance / E. Curtis

Lessons 1 of 2