Saturday, March 18, 2017

Community and TAB-ish art history

Last summer as part of my graduate coursework, I took a class that was a survey of art history for educators. I LOVE art history, I minored in it at ESU, but I was a little nervous not knowing if we'd be expected to create lesson plans "in the style of" the artists we were learning about. Thankfully throughout my courses at UNK, I found that they had a real interest in letting the students make the program work for their lives- their teaching style, grade level, community, etc.

Throughout the course I tried to develop resources that I would actually use. I figured out how to incorporate art history into my TAB-ish classroom.

Our school mascot is a cobra. 
One unit that inspired an idea was American Regionalism. I always try to boil art history down into the big idea. Regionalist artists were basically painting pictures that represented the people, places, and stories of their communities. Today's communities, even in the midwest where Regionalism was rooted, look much different than in Grant Wood's, Thomas Hart Benton's, and John Steuart Curry's day. Technology and social media have changed how we connect. I wondered how my students would define their communities.

I've been using a mixture of boot camps and themes for my main high school art class. On the day we were due for a new theme, I started off with a slides presentation about Regionalism.

We discussed the slides, discussed the idea of community and how it doesn't have to be a physical community, before brainstorming communities that the students are a part of and figuring out how they wanted to represent the idea of community in a work of art. Some students chose our school as a community, several represented teams or organizations, some used farming or hunting, some chose online communities, some even represented serving the community in the military. The ideas were vast and so were the media the students chose to carry out their ideas.

This student made a rural scene which fits our community but filled in the space with binary code to represent himself.

Two designs with the same composition and colors (our school colors) reversed were woven together to represent our school having a lot of different types of people but we're all one community. Made by a student with some special needs.

Our school has very successful running programs and the students talk about the feel of family and community there. I wish I'd planned for more time on this project. The painting of the team on the top right would have been much improved if the student wasn't rushed to finish before the end of the semester.

Godspell was our school musical last fall so it made an appearance in a couple projects.
This student works at a veterinary office as a kennel tech and represented her job as part of her community.

This was supposed to be a church picnic but the student ran out of time and had to eliminate more of the crowd. 

Representation of the style and sense of humor of this students' community of friends.

Artist Statement: I decided to represent the farming community through the burning of CRP/Grassland. I choose this topic because I grew up in a farming community. Also, I have had experience in burning CRP. In my art I painted the grass being burned, sparks flew through the air and into the fire, and the fire was fully ablaze. I had trees in the background that were about to be caught on fire. Finally, behind the fire I have the burnt pieces of grass that have already been through the fire.
The two students above used their after school jobs as part of their community project.
Artist Statement: I did, for my community project, a couch with four people people, one a Death Eater (from Harry Potter), one a Science Officer (from Star Trek), one a X-wing Pilot (from Star Wars), and a Superhero (The Flash, from DC comics). I represented the Nerd community by putting these four together. I chose this topic because I am very big in this community. I visually represented this by putting them all hanging out together on a couch, in one of their houses. The title also represents the community by being the thing that starts every Simpsons’ episode ever (Couch Gags).

One of my freshmen loves wheel throwing and is pretty good at it. She has a large family that represents community to her so she made a bowl to represent each member of her family.

I think this theme will be added to my rotation. I teach in a small school so my class "regular" art class is like an Art 1, but students can take it more than once so I may have a senior with 4 years of art under their belt and a freshman who hasn't had art since elementary school in the same class. I think I will have to figure out a rotation of themes or some other method to allow students to propose their own theme. My advanced art class has been a full-TAB experiment this year. I'm still finding the right balance for my students.

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