Musings about the importance and impact of art and art education in the 21st century.

10 Lessons the Arts Teach

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in
Written by Elliot Eisner, an ardent arts advocate, I originally found this from  the April 2011 issue of Arts & Activities magazine.  The link to the article can be found here.  It's a short, succinct argument for the importance of art in education. Here it is:

1. The arts teach children to make good judgments about qualitative relationships.Unlike much of the curriculum in which correct answers and rules prevail, in the arts, it
is judgment rather than rules that prevail.
2. The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solutionand that questions can have more than one answer.
3. The arts celebrate multiple perspectives.One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.
4. The arts teach children that in complex forms of problem solving
purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstance and opportunity.
Learning in the arts requires the ability and a willingness to surrender to the unanticipated possibilities of the work as it unfolds.
5. The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor numbers exhaust what we can know. The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.
6. The arts teach students that small differences can have large effects.The arts traffic in subtleties.
7. The arts teach students to think through and within a material.All art forms employ some means through which images become real.
8. The arts help children learn to say what cannot be said.When children are invited to disclose what a work of art helps them feel, they must reach into their poetic capacities to find the words that will do the job.
9. The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source and through such experience to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of feeling.
10. The arts' position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young
what adults believe is important.

2nd Grade Aboriginal Art

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in

I love teaching about Aboriginal art, the culture, history and mythology of the Aboriginal people is so fascinating and it always seems to inspire the students. In this lesson I taught a few key concepts over the course of about 5 40-minute periods, these include:
- Use of warm colors
- Many animals were depicted as a sort of x-ray, with colors and shapes filling the bodies
- Aborigines live in the outback, a rural area sepearted by a lot of land from the larger cities
- A good way to remember that the Aborigines were the first people to inhabit Australia is the word original, which can be found when you take away the a and b.
- Use of dots to help add texture to their work
- Use of symbols to tell a visual story
- The 'dreaming' is an Aboriginal creation story, and each tribe has their own dreamings
- Due to Australia's geographical location Aboriginal art is very unique has many of its own separate qualities and characteristics.  

The students work had to meet the following criteria for completion: Each piece had to have an x-ray style animal filled with shapes and colored in.  2 or more symbols which could have been ones we discussed and viewed in class or ones they had thought up on their own.  A path (to help depict a journey). Dots painted in a controlled, organized manner and everything except the dots had to be outlined in Sharpie to help keep the edges clean. We used crayola construction paper crayons which I liked a lot, the colors only come out a little bit brighter, but overall the effect is worth it. 

Taco Fish

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in

As an alternative to the pinch pot fishes I had created with 4 of my 5 classes, I came across an interesting alternative.  Normally, I don't deviate from the lesson outcomes too much between classes in the same grade once I start teaching them but because I wasn't entirely happy with the pinch pot fish I decided to try 'taco' fish with 1 of my classes.  
First you flatten about 2-3 packages of model magic into a pancake.  Then you stuff a piece of tissue in the center and fold the top over like a taco.  You pinch the top and can create fins, spikes, dips, or curves onto the fishes 'back'.  Next, you roll eyes, then a coil for the mouth and pinch the back of the taco for the tail.  I felt these were much more 'fish'-like and the students were much more engaged making these than the pinch pots. Plus, every fish was able to stand upright, unlike the pinch pots which weebled and wobbled and seemed to structurally frustrate some of my students.  Although I'm sure some of the problem was the model magic, it was so soft the pot kept sinking ...Oh well, live and learn!

And yes, these did get painted after they had dried.  :) Who wants a plain white fish anyways~!

1st Grade Clay Fish Part II-The Display Case

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in ,

I used pinch pot and taco fish I had made with my 1st graders to create a cute under the sea themed display case.  Since one of the classes was a week behind the other, I had the rest of the classes spend a period creating ocean themed cube 'stands'  and some octopi using watercolor and white crayons to add a little extra interest to the case.  Here are a few shots of the case:

4th Grade Coil Pots

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in
In the beginning of the year I had my 2nd graders create coil pots with the coils laid flat on top of each other.  For my 4th graders I wanted something a bit more challenging, so instead of having them lay the coils flat, i had them create a ring where the coils where standing.  I really, really, really really, emphasized the importance of scoring, slipping, and not just sticking, but smoothing the pieces together to avoid breakage.  I slow fired each load and I was enormously lucky that not one out of the 100 coil pots I fired broke!  I experimented with different glazes including Nasco and Aamco which I had leftover from previous years and was pleasantly surprised at how bright and shiny the finished colors looked.  Next I'm going to have the 3rd graders create clay cupcakes in the style of Wayne Thiebaud and use Mayco's Stroke and Coat glaze, which another art teacher in my district swears by. 

African Face Jugs

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in
I've been working on Face Jugs with my 5th graders, they are so amazing at it! When I first showed them my example and was explaining the lesson they all said to me, "wow Ms. F, that's so goooood", and my reply was that their jugs were going to be even better and I was spot on.  They are so great I can't wait to post some finished pictures...In the meantime, here's a video from PBS on African 'ugly' face jugs. 

Watch Face Jug on PBS. See more from History Detectives.

1st Grade Model Magic Fishies

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in
I believe the first time I saw pinch pot fish was on Mr. E's blog.  However, in my case, I had just finished up coil pots with 2nd and 4th grade and was starting African Face jugs with my 5th graders, and was running dangerously low on clay.  I had a few boxes of colored model magic leftover from last year and improvised.  

I only gave the students red, yellow, and blue, and as a primary and secondary color review, had them mix the rest to create their fish.  

The results came out cute, but I'm not a big fan of model magic. I find that no matter how much you 'smush' the pieces together when they dry they fall off and that although the texture of the clay is nice, its isn't stiff enough to support any pressure while working which ended up making for many a sagging and sinking pinch pot fish. 

To add a minor bit of insult to injury, after the project was over I found 6 50 pound boxes of extra clay I had stored in my supply closet and forgotten about when I unpacked all the clay over the summer!  Ah, I'll give the fish a go with real clay next year!

3rd grade Louise Nevelson inspired sculpture

♠ Posted by ArtMuse in
Louise Nevelson
From the art story website:

Louise Nevelson became renowned during the Abstract Expressionist period for constructing crated assemblages full of wooden items grouped together into monochromatically painted cubic structures. Her aim to reinvigorate found objects with a spiritual life was informed by feminist ideals and Nevelson's strong persona, which inspired multitudinous female artists associated with the women's movement. Influenced by Duchamp's found object sculptures, Nevelson sought to build abstract wooden environments, painted gold, black, or white, that obscured original content to historicize debris with a second, more mysterious narrative life. The narratives in her artwork originated from her personal migration history as a Jewish woman who relocated to America, and from her active life in New York's artistic community.

 3rd graders discussed symmetry and balance while using wooden pieces to create an assemblage that was mounted on cardboard squares.  It amazes me the amount of variety the students came up with even though everyone used the same wood pieces.  The part-time art teacher at my school did this lesson.  In the spirit of Nevelson's use of monochromatic color to help focus the emphasis on shape and shadow, she had the students paint the sculptures in either black or white and finish with a coat of Elmer's glue for shine. I taught this lesson with a small self-contained class of 6 and we finished ours in color sans the glue. Here are a few pictures:

FYI  below is a great site that I found while searching for a short blurb about Nevelson to include in the post. 
The Art Story