Sunday, April 29, 2012

Reflections (Cortor’s The Room No. IV)

            As we toured the Modern American Paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago, a few of the students from Innovations High School stopped to look at Eldzier Cortor’s oil painting, The Room No. IV (1948). One of the female African-American students immediately commented that the angular figures lying on the bed were naked and black. She said to me, “Why they always gotta do us like that?” “Like what?” I asked. “Whenever they show us in paintings, we always gotta be poor. All of us sleeping in one bed.” “Well,” I responded, “maybe we should read more about the artist who painted it. I don’t really know a lot about this piece, so maybe we can figure out why these people are all sleeping together.” As I read aloud from the title card that accompanied the painting, we each discovered that the artist is an African-American woman who recreates everyday scenes of hardship in urban communities. “Oh,” the African-American student said. “I guess she’s just painting something that she lived through.” I informed her that as an artist, that’s a very difficult thing to do. You’re sharing something personal about yourself for everybody to see, whether it’s sad or just embarrassing. I asked the student, “Would you be able to share something personal like that about yourself?” The student just shook her head. “Not for everybody to see like that.”
            The African-American student’s exposure to art museums was limited, but she had seen enough representations of her race and culture in art to make her initial comment. It was like she felt that the portrayal of African-Americans in art had to include some element of hardship. You couldn’t just have black figures sitting together socially in a diner, like in Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks (1942)—which we had seen moments before. Poverty had to be displayed through the cramped living conditions, disheveled bedroom, and nude African-American figures.
            Our discussion prompted me to defend the role of African-Americans in art, not just the identity of the artist who created a piece, but how African-Americans were represented. I told her about the Harlem Renaissance and how the paintings from this era were alive with color and movement. They were about music, dancing, and culture.  I informed her there was art like that in the Institute we could look at, but she just lightly nodded and looked away, never mentioning it again.
            I suppose if I could go back to the discussion I had with the student about Cortor’s, The Room No. IV, I would have made an effort to include the whole group. The group was almost entirely African-American, except for one Hispanic student. We could explore the issues artists face in including personal elements in their work. It’s like a life story, except that it’s a snapshot of a moment in time. I would have asked the students what it means to be honest in their work. Then, I would have asked why some artists choose to display serious hardships, while others choose to represent the more joyous moments in life. Is there room for both, particularly when it comes from an artist with a difficult upbringing, regardless of their race or gender?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Postmodern Principles - Olivia Gude

Here is an AWESOME article to read

Lesson Plan Day 2

Title: A Day With the MFA
Instructor: MCC and MFA students
Subject: Material Experimentation Workshop

Scheduled Date & Time: May 3rd @ 2-4 pm

Grade Level: High School

Content Objective: Students will be able to participate in tours, discussion, experimentation and the creation of art with contemporary artists and art educators.

Prerequisite Skills: Introduction to art history and grade level skills in material manipulation.

Materials: To be determined based on the SAIC artists that will be attending the workshop.

Anticipatory Set: Inform students that they will be exploring 2-3 MFA spaces at SAIC and then participating in a day of making art. First, they will take part in a MFA and MCC instructor-lead tour of the MFA student studios. The instructors will encourage dialogue amongst the group.  We will discuss material choices made by the artist, a thread of potential narrative that exists in the space, and anything else that informs the work and the viewer.  After touring 2-3 studios, students will participate in some material experiments that will open the possibility of finding the material that may support their own narrative in their final creation. Students will rotate to 3 different tables that will headed by an instructor to give a brief description and be there to help those in need. Once students rotate through the tables, they can go to an instructor and discuss the sketches from the museum in their sketchbooks, their material experiments and narratives. Instructors will help them to solidify a potential direction for making during the next class. Students can begin their project if time permits after meeting with an instructor.

Modeling: Demonstrate how to engage a dialogue by asking questions of the artist and the students.  Display our own work so students have an opportunity to view our own practices and maybe determine who would best help them realize their concept.

Lesson Sections:
Studio Visits art making
Three studio visit sections:
(Sullivan) Erin Chlagmo, Kristina Januskaite-Sparks
(Sullivan and Sharp) Michael Webster, Delaney DeMott
(MacLean) John Wilmes, Jeremiah Jones, Erin Chlagmo

Studio visits:
Upon group arrival set a positive tone through an inquiry based introduction, on the ideas of process and professional goals. Introduce the goals and theme of the partnership through an advanced organizer:
We know from last week that __________________ the artists that we talk to today are going to share with us their process, and are excited to answer any questions we have about anything you might be interested in.
Facilitate discussion using open-ended questions that elicit multiple responses and engage students in critical thinking. Deepen conversations by embedding contextual information organically

Discussion prompts: (Directed to the MFA’s as a way to engage the high school student)
Who or what has been your biggest influence of your work?
What themes/ideas/concepts are you exploring?
How do those relate, if at all, to work that is in the AIC?
How did you first come to use the materials/supplies that are being utilized in your work?
What difficulties have you found with these materials or what is especially unique about them?
What advice would you give a young/new artist that is interested in exploring similar materials or modes of production?
Do you work on multiple pieces or singular pieces at a time?
How has your work changed, or not changed, since beginning the graduate program at SAIC?
How does your work exemplify a personal narrative?

Remediation: If students are having trouble becoming engaged in a dialogue, ask them to describe what they are seeing and ask questions of them based on their descriptions.

Discussion prompts: (Directed to the high school students in response to the MFA studio visit)
What most intrigued you about the artists? Studios? Materials?
Did you ‘see’ similar exploration of themes with ideas that you have?  If so, what were they?
How are these ideas different from your own?
What would you like to explore more with the MFA’s and why?
Do you visualize your own artistic work exploring similar materials that you explored today?
In what ways would you visualize your written or drawn work being constructed with some of the materials that you explored or were exposed to today? 
Do any of the materials remind you of work that you saw or investigated at the AIC?

Closing: Consists of a combination of discussion, voluntary critique and review/reflection.

Assessment: Students will have discussed the qualities of historical, contemporary and personal artwork.  They will have participated in material investigations, art making and they will have written a narrative or sketched a drawing about their artwork.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lesson Plan for Day 1: Museum Visit

Title: A Walk Through the Art Institute
Instructor: Nick Franco
Subject: Visual Art Education

Scheduled Date & Time: April 26th @ 2-4 pm

Grade Level: High School

Content Objective: Students will be able to discuss formal and conceptual qualities of a work of art. They will either write a narrative or sketch a drawing based on their chosen artwork.  

Prerequisite Skills: Introduction to art history and grade level skills in creative writing and drawing.

Materials: Sketchbooks, graphite pencils, & digital cameras. (Optional materials can include a smart phone or tablet.)

Anticipatory Set: Inform students that they will be exploring 2-3 gallery spaces at the Art Institute of Chicago. First, they will take part in an instructor-lead tour of one of the gallery spaces. The instructor will show students a piece of art that has influenced their method of creative expression. The instructor will briefly discuss the artist, title, and movement in art history, and then engage students with information and questions about the formal and conceptual qualities. For example, “The artist’s brushwork is very active and aggressive. What kind of emotions do you think the artist was going through at the time? What was going on in history to make the artist feel this way?” The second step in the gallery visit will be student-lead, allowing the students to explore 2 gallery spaces to find a piece of artwork they enjoy looking at, identify with, or have some knowledge about from previous studies. Tell student that they will either be writing a short story about by their chosen artwork or they will sketch a drawing or series of drawings inspired by the piece.    

  1. In the visitor center at the Art Institute, provide students with a brief introduction about yourself.
  2. Report to your pre-assigned group of 3-5 students. (Students will be grouped together by their classroom teacher based on behavior and areas of interest.)
  3. Pass out 1 sketchbook and 1 digital camera to each student.
  4. Visit your chosen artwork and inform students about the formal aspects (color, composition, medium, technique) and conceptual aspects (history, narrative, emotive qualities).
  5. Explain how the work has influenced your own art making, providing students with digital examples on a mobile device such as a smart phone or tablet.
  6. Instruct students to visit 2 galleries in the Institute. (You will need to supervise the group, so the galleries can either be adjoining or your group can visit one gallery at a time.)
  7. Encourage students to take digital images of the work they find interesting or inspiring.
  8. As students begin to focus on one piece of artwork, instruct them to sit at a bench close to their piece and write down or draw out some ideas.
  9. Through guided reflection, ask students to share their work by reading aloud, summarizing their thoughts, or displaying their drawings.
  10. Lead students back to the visitor center of the Institute.

Modeling: Demonstrate for students how to define the formal and conceptual qualities of a work of art. Explain how these qualities influence each other, creating a thought provoking piece that generates several questions and comments from the viewer.

Remediation: If students are having trouble responding to a piece of artwork, provide them with a series of prompts related to storytelling. For example, “Which of these pieces do you feel has a story to tell?” “What is that story?” “If somebody asked you tell your own story, how would you do it?” “Could you use words or drawings?”

Closing: Congratulate students on being able to identify important elements of a work of art. They were able to express themselves creatively through the influence of professional artists. Inform students that in the next two workshops, they will get the chance to talk with graduate level artists and develop their own piece of art using different materials.

Assessment: Students will have discussed the formal and conceptual qualities of artwork. They will have written a narrative or sketched a drawing about their artwork.  

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Notes from Meeting with Innovations VP Melissa Fleming

Since not everyone was able to go to the meeting with Melissa Fleming of Innovations High School, I am posting the notes that I took while we talked with her about our project.
  • Arts integration in their Core classes (math, science, english, history)
  • Budget was cut because of the move to the new building, so arts integration was cut, this is one reason why Melissa was interested in our project
  • Melissa thought having the same group of students over the course of the project would work best
  • Students range from the ages 16-20 and come from various CPS high schools. The most common reason for students to move to IHS is for bad attendance records (can be related to family, sickness, work)  but there are also students that are teen parents or engaged in bad behavior.
  • Students tend to come into IHS with a 7th grade reading level and 6th grade math level. They are lucky if they are able to get students up to 8th grade levels when they graduate.
  • Part of their mission is for students to have goals/careers in mind
  • Students like anything hands-on, out of the school building, and trying new things
  • They have only had one or two field trips to the Art Institute, so its likely most students have not been to the Art Institute
  • They are liberal about censorship, "students have pretty much seen everything," just no cuss words in artwork
  • Would like digital art because they are trying to move towards being innovative (as their school name suggests) but anything is great
  • Their arts integration is more about getting concepts not about the product
  • They have one lab with Macs but that lab is usually occupied, they have another lab with PCs so we have to be able to work on the digital art on PCs and with free programs they can use
  • Melissa mentioned IHS is all about giving the students choices
  • We are most likely (but now it is confirmed) working with the journalism class, they have not done any form of photojournalism so that can be something we consider to integrate
  • What cameras are allowed in the museum?
  • We can look at the teacher's curriculum we are working with so we can make additional connections to her lessons
  • There will be about 25 students in the group we work with, but attendance is a big problem for them so there might be lots of absences 
- Paola