Louise Nevelson

Louise Nevelson was a very strong, Jewish woman who was also a sculptor of assemblages. An assemblage is really just a gathering of things that don’t normally belong together, found objects. Nevelson would take things from the side of the road and put them together. She created unity by painting the sculptures all the same color. We watched part of this video of artists discussing Nevelson’s work. (starting at 1:50)

“I fell in love with black; it contained all color. It wasn’t a negation of color… Black is the most aristocratic color of all… You can be quiet, and it contains the whole thing.” -Louise Nevelson

“Women at that time were supposed to look pretty and throw little handkerchiefs around… well, I couldn’t play that role.” -Louise Nevelson

This assemblage by Nevelson is called Homage to 6,000,000. One art critic claimed “Each box is the same, yet the interiors are each different. This huge installation speaks of the unbelievable number of Jews who died during the holocaust. Perhaps for her, each box was the remnants of a separate life, all combining into a formidable wall of remembrance.” When students analyzed this assemblage, they really understood this idea the artist was trying to get across.

homage

In this portrait of Nevelson, she looks like a living assemblage!

Nevelson by Avedon

Students chose to create their assemblages in a radial symmetrical design, asymmetrical design or mirror image symmetrical design. The found objects were found in my grandma’s basement! My grandma is an artist herself and when she moved into assisted living, she had to give up most of her supplies. Some of the boxes had stuff in it I never thought I could ever use, but it was perfect for an assemblage project! Fake butterflies, small straw hats, parts of old blinds, fake flowers, doll heads, doll hair and so many more odd and interesting things.

IMG_4113Students loved going through this box of miscellaneous stuff! I think I could have made this project two months instead of two class periods and they would have been just fine with that.

And some of the finished assemblages..

MMSD Art Standards:

Identify the purposes, subject matter, stories, feelings, or symbols communicated through art.
Identify and use color, shapes, lines, texture, space, and movement in works of art.
Identify and use contrast, repetition, emphasis, unity, and variety.
Use creative problem solving skills and risk taking skills.
Describe artwork and will continue to develop this skill.
Recognize an expanding number of artists and their styles.
Recognize artwork representing various cultures, gender, media, time, and subject, ulilizing developing resources from the Chazen.
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3rd grade Labor Murals

3rd graders began this lesson with a close reading of Diego Rivera’s murals. Students got into groups and began sketching their plan for their own group mural. As they began painting, they needed to review how to mix for secondary colors. They also needed to know what kinds of brushes to use. It makes sense to say out loud that you would need a small brush for details and a large brush for the big areas, but it is something students needed to be reminded of to think about.

Students really started to learn what the word craftsmanship means through this project. At various stages, students needed to be on the lookout for different ways they could see in their murals that they were really doing their best work and not rushing things. In the painting stage, that meant being White Spot Inspectors. When they were finished painting, that meant getting out their black markers. If you click on the links, you can see the videos created by another art teacher that students watched on these craftsmanship concepts.

IMG_3849 IMG_3854 IMG_3853After painting the murals, students learned about gesture drawings to help them create the workers for their murals.

gesture

After a month and a half of work, here are the results!

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Standards in this lesson-

MMSD Art Standards

Identify the subject matter or story communicated through art.

Identify and use color, shapes, line, texture, and space in works of art.

Recognize and use previously introduced elements, media, techniques, and processes and will continue to expand their knowledge which includes:

1. Drawing as a planning tool for later use with a variety of media.
2. Drawing with contour line.
3. The techniques and processes of color mixing which include secondary colors
Describe artwork and will continue to develop this skill.
Participate in group discussions describing artwork.
Identify subject matter and feeling found in art. Identify the narrative qualities of artwork, i.e. cultural meaning and illustrations.
Create artwork with various subject matter, symbols, and emotional content.
View styles and techniques of a limited number of artists, and/or cultures past and present.
Start recognizing the principles of art in various art disciplines
Recognize endless relationships between visual arts and other
disciplines, i.e. Observation drawing – social studies, science Landscape painting – science, social studies
MMSD Social Emotional Standards
Students will work cooperatively with partner and in small groups.
Students will identify and practice strategies for resolving conflicts constructively.
Students will recognize that they have choices in how to respond to situations.

Diego Rivera and Close Reading

Close reading is the new buzz word in our classrooms. It is traditionally associated with literacy, the close reading of text. But text can be many different things, not just a traditional book or article. Text can also be a painting, sculpture, piece of music or graphic. Close reading might be the new buzz word in our elementary classrooms but it is something we art and music teachers have been doing for decades.

Essentially, close reading means reading to uncover layers of meaning that lead to deep comprehension. A good example of close reading in the art room is the lesson third graders just finished. They began this lesson with a close reading of the text of Diego Rivera’s labor murals in Detroit.

In close reading, there is a focus on observing and analyzing. The same questions that classroom teachers use to probe for deeper understanding in reading are the same questions we art teachers use as well. Remember, the text is the murals.

  • Who is speaking in the text?
  • Who seems to be the main audience? (To whom is the artist speaking?)
  • What is the first thing that jumps out at me? Why?
  • What’s the next thing I notice? Are these two things connected? How? Do they seem to be saying different things?
  • What seems important here? Why?
  • What does the artist mean by ______? What parts of the mural lead me to this meaning?
  • Is the artist trying to convince me of something? What? How do I know?
  • Is there something missing from this mural that I expected to find? Why might the artist have left this out?
  • Is there anything that could have been explained more thoroughly for greater clarity?
  • Is there a message or main idea? What in the text led me to this conclusion?
  • How does this painting fit into the murals as a whole?
  • What symbols are present? Why did the artist choose these symbols?
  • What images(s) stand out? Why? (typically vivid images, unusual choices, or a contrast to what a reader expects)
  • How do particular images get us to look at characters or events in a particular way? Do they evoke an emotion?
  • Are there any images that could have more than one meaning? Why might the artist have played with images in this way?
  • What one word describes the tone?
  • Does an image here remind you of an image elsewhere in the mural? Where? What’s the connection?
  • How might this image fit into the pattern of the mural as a whole?
  • Is there any repetition within the mural? What is the effect of that repetition?

The questioning could go on forever. Once the students get started in this line of questioning, they get really excited about it. I’m also very excited because students start to see the artwork in a whole new way!

After an in depth discussion prompted by the close reading of the text, students brainstormed what labor they see in their own communities.

From here, students got into groups depending on which labor group they wanted to focus on and started brainstorming the people in those groups. Who collects our garbage? Who grows our food? Who delivers our mail? Who fixes our pipes? Who builds the buildings? etc.

The next class, students started sketches of murals they would then create in groups inspired by labor in their own communities and Deigo Rivera’s murals.

Standards in this lesson:

Common Core Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.1 Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.3 Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.6 Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.7 Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)

MMSD Social Studies Standards

Examine Madison’s history (i.e.energy, transportation, communication, art, architecture).
Recognize and interpret how the “common good” can be strengthened through various forms of citizen action.\

Describe the ways people participate in the community in order to provide goods and services whether through paid or volunteer activities.
Explain why people specialize in different occupations and describe how that specialization leads to increasing interdependence between producers and consumers in a community.
Recognize systems that are developed to meet specific community needs: government, transportation, education, communications.
Define a community as an interdependent group of people living and working together.
Demonstrates an ability to interact within a group while performing various group roles (i.e. organizing, planning, and goal setting).
Apply and practice skills of conflict resolution (persuasion, compromise, debate, and negotiation).

MMSD Art Standards

Identify the subject matter or story communicated through art.

Identify and use color, shapes, line, texture, and space in works of art.

Recognize and use previously introduced elements, media, techniques, and processes and will continue to expand their knowledge which includes:

1. Drawing as a planning tool for later use with a variety of media.
2. Drawing with contour line.
3. The techniques and processes of color mixing which include secondary colors
Describe artwork and will continue to develop this skill.
Participate in group discussions describing artwork.
Identify subject matter and feeling found in art. Identify the narrative qualities of artwork, i.e. cultural meaning and illustrations.
Create artwork with various subject matter, symbols, and emotional content.
View styles and techniques of a limited number of artists, and/or cultures past and present.
Start recognizing the principles of art in various art disciplines
Recognize endless relationships between visual arts and other
disciplines, i.e. Observation drawing – social studies, science Landscape painting – science, social studies
MMSD Social Emotional Standards
Students will work cooperatively with partner and in small groups.
Students will identify and practice strategies for resolving conflicts constructively.
Students will recognize that they have choices in how to respond to situations.

Exquisite Corpse

Surrealism is the juxtaposition of fantastical images. For example, we looked at some paintings by Vladimir Kush. What do you see here? What images are juxtaposed together?

cloud

How about in this painting by Salvador Dali?

elephants

Exquisite Corpse is a game created by many Surrealism artists. A piece of paper is folded into thirds and each of the three artists starts with their own paper. On the first third, each artist draws a head and then folds it over so the next artist can’t see it then passes it to the left. The second round, each artist draws a body on the second third and then folds it over so no one can see the first or second third. The third round, each artist draws legs and feet and then opens the entire drawing. They turn out very silly. Lots of giggles during this class!!

We were also inspired by these hilarious exquisite corpse created by famous children’s illustrators.

This lesson is an introduction to what surrealism is. 3rd graders will learn more about surrealism in Wisconsin when they go to MMoCA on their field trip next semester to see The Mystery Beneath exhibit.

“Drawn from MMoCA’s permanent collection as a complementary show to Real/Surreal, this exhibition explores the flowering of surrealism and magical realism in Wisconsin from 1940 to 1975. The Mystery Beneath includes paintings, drawings, etchings, and prints by Aaron Bohrod, Duane Brisette, Karl Priebe, James Watrous, John Wilde, and Santos Zingale among others.

The Mystery Beneath will be on view in the museum’s State Street Gallery January 17, 2014 to April 13, 2014.”

MMSD Arts Standards

Standard Six: Reflects upon and assesses the characteristics and merits of own work and the work of others. The student will be able to: Recognize a limited number of artists and their styles, selected from the developing resource list, in conjunction with the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA), Chazen and MMSD.

Recognize a limited number of artists and their styles, selected from the developing resource list, in conjunction with the Madison Art Center, Chazen and MMSD.

Day of the Dead

Third graders learned about the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos). We watched this short video and learned how Day of the Dead is not a scary holiday and it is separate from Halloween. Day of the Dead is holiday for remembering and honoring those who have passed. It is a festive, joyous time of celebration. Dia de los Muertos originated centuries ago in Mexico, where it is still widely celebrated to this day. The holiday is a blend of pre-Hispanic indigenous beliefs and Spanish Catholic beliefs.

The image of the Catrina has come to be a prominent symbol of Day of the Dead. Students chose to either create a celebratory Catrina image or create a skeleton image in honor of a loved one who has passed away after they created their own ‘sugar skull‘ design.

MMSD Arts Standards:

Standard One: A.Visual Memory and Knowledge
Students will know and remember information and ideas about the art and design around them and throughout the world.
Standard One: B. Art and Design History, Citizenship, and Environment Students will understand the value and significance of the visual arts, media and design in relation to history, citizenship, the environment, and social development.
Standard Seven: Interpreting Interprets the visual experience with a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas. Students will be able to: Identify subject matter and feeling found in art. Identify the narrative qualities of artwork, i.e. cultural meaning and illustrations. Create artwork with various subject matter, symbols, and emotional content.

Standard Eight: Understands the function and structure of the visual arts in relation to human history and cultures. Students will understand and be able to: View styles and techniques of a limited number of artists, and/or cultures past and present.
Ms. B and I were inspired by Day of the Dead and were Catrinas for Halloween. Did you stop by for hot chocolate and candy?
b and i

WAEA Conference 2013

I make it a point to head to my art education professional conference every year. It is the one time a year where I receive professional development that is tailored toward me, as an art educator. It is also the one time a year I can hear from my art education colleagues state-wide. I hear many different amazing things going on in classrooms all over Wisconsin as well as connecting with art teachers all over Wisconsin. Here are the top three take-ways that I got from the conference this year!

1. Adaptive Art ideas by Kathryn Rulien-Bareis

The keynote on Thursday shared a way to create a paintbrush for our students that can’t grip normal paintbrushes.

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First, take a rectangle made from shelf liner or several types of foam and cut fringes in one of the long sides. Then roll it up and put a rubber band on it. Pill bottles are a good option to finish off the handle. If it is slippery, add a rubber band to enhance the grip. More ideas here.

Simple and brilliant!

I’m not one to promote products but I have to say, I’m excited about the idea of these solid tempera paint sticks. I have a student in a wheelchair with a tray who has limited mobility. Dipping a paintbrush in water means having the water on the tray. For this student, sticks without the water may be a really great option for her!

Best new adaptive scissors idea ever:

adaptacut

2. Advocacy Calender

Jessica Balsley of Art of Education was our Friday keynote. She spoke on many subjects but one of her points stood out to me, create an advocacy calender. Art teachers are very busy people. But the idea is, for example, in September you focus on the students creating art advocacy projects and then maybe in October you present at a PTO meeting and every December you write a letter with a good research article to your school board etc. You do one act a month focused on one group. A wonderful way to plan out your advocacy in a way that isn’t so overwhelming!

3. Tips on working with your Special Education Assistants (SEAs) in the classroom

Another one from Jessica Balsley, this one was presented during her Autism and Art break out session.

– Be clear about expectations (create a welcome letter)

I’ve now worked at four different MMSD schools in my five years in Madison. I’ve worked with some AMAZING SEAs and some where I really wish things had gone differently. Each experience was a learning experience. But what I should have done, is have a welcome letter ready for SEAs when they come to my classroom. It comes from remembering that as the art teacher, I am the expert on art education in my classroom and I need to vocalize that. I need to let my SEAs know that it is not OK to DO the project for the child no matter what, it is not OK to create your own project unless it is part of the plan for that child that they need to follow along step-by-step with the adult next to them and they are expected to come to art with that child every single time. Creating a welcome letter means we are both on the same page from the beginning!

– Nip it in the bud immediately, say something right away!

I’ve had situations where I don’t know how to tell my SEA colleague my expectations in a professional way without feeling like I’m being disrespectful to the SEA. I don’t want my SEA to feel like I am not treating them as a professional. SEAs are our invisible heroes. They do SO MUCH and and deal with situations that would be beyond the wildest thoughts of any administrator. But I also need to remember that part of treating my SEA as a professional is saying something right away instead of letting something fester.

I presented for the first time ever at the conference. Yikes! But I think it went well. I had two co-presenters and we talked about advocacy in art. I talked about how to testify for your program and who to testify to. I also talked about framing your message in your testimony and in your emails/letters. My other co-presenters did a great job sharing research to back up your message and talking about how to create a rational. Check out our presentation here.

All in all, it was a great conference! I learned much more than is in this post but I thought I’d edit it down to three. I’m so grateful that Superintendent Cheatham made the decision to allow art and music teachers to go to their professional conferences. It is so valuable when we, as professionals, feel we are getting professional development that is relevant to us!

But I can’t end the post without congratulating our MMSD Arts Coordinator, Laurie Fellenz, on winning the Distinguished Service Award from WAEA. Distinguished Service Award is awarded to an individual outside the profession for outstanding achievement and contributions to art education on the local, state and/or national levels. We are so proud of her. Way to go. Laurie!

Special thanks to art teacher Julie Olsen for taking the time to nominate her!