Student Teacher Blog
I believe that diversity in any capacity, whether it be diversity in thought, representation, etc. is extremely important. As someone who went through U.S. public K-12 education, I learned very early that there was a lack of diversity in the arts. Throughout my education, I learned mainly about white, male, European/western painters, sculptors, etc. The underlying message was that African-American, Latino, Asian, Women, and many other artists that have been left out of the conversation. For too long, there has only be one (or very few) perspectives shown in the art room. As an emerging art educator, I believe it is important for my students to learn a wide-range of artists in background, race, ethnicity, gender, geographical location, etc. My current elementary school is a very white, middle-class, suburban environment, so I am trying to introduce more diversity into the art room. One of the ways I begin class is with attendance. For attendance, I allow my students to say “here, present, or hello” in any language of their choice. I know this is subtle, but it is an easy way to encourage students to think about how we use language and how we can be more inclusive to ESL-students and aware about our own language privilege. Aside from the lack of diversity within the “traditional” artists, there is also a lack of contemporary artists. For one of my lessons, I choose to teach my students about Kehinde Wiley. Kehinde Wiley is an African (Nigerian)-American contemporary portrait artist. He was born in L.A but his father is from Nigeria. During my presentation to my students, we talk about how Kehinde redefines portraiture through race, pose, and emotion. I ask my students what they notice between all of his portraits and although they notice that he only paints people of color, they do not voice their observation. In almost all of my classes, after I have proceeded to tell students this, there is always a handful of students who say they wanted to “say that” but they thought it would be “inappropriate” and some even said “racist.” It was heart-breaking and interesting to hear how my students felt when it came to discussing race; especially when discussing art. Throughout all of my lessons that focus on artists like Kehinde Wiley, and Faith Ringgold, to discussing kente cloth, and masks within various cultures around the world, I want to encourage and inspire my students to consider artwork that is not based in the western world and ways they themselves may relate and form connections with multi-cultural artwork/artists.
Art 6 classes were introduced to Instagram artist, Brock Davis. They talked about the reasons why an artist might choose Instagram or other online platforms as a place to display their work, and then analyzed Brock Davis’s work for a common theme. After seeing that Brock Davis often uses ordinary objects in unexpected or humorous ways, the students began to set up their own photos of classroom objects being used in exciting ways.
Next they measured out grids to scale their photographs into drawings using either colored pencils or graphite pencils. Some students even chose a combination of the two. Lastly, they participated in a “social media” activity. As a class we discussed the positives and negatives of social media and using text online. We then related that to how adding text to artwork could be positive or negative. As an alternative critique, students walked around the room and left positive comments on each other’s work, similar to comments on Instagram. Then the artist chose what text they wanted to include in their final piece.
Art 7 was challenged to create 2-point perspective drawings of a themed community. Students came up with lots of different and exciting themes for their projects, ranging from ice cream to Chernobyl to plants. The class learned about perspective techniques by watching videos on their iPads and collaborating on perspective drawings using the smart board.
Mr. Brownell began the 4th grade class with a presentation on album artwork, the history of physical music, examples of famous or iconic album covers and professional album art designers. I shared my passion of collecting records and DJing and to my surprise several students shared that their older brothers or sisters and cousins made music or had parents that collected records too. Throughout the unit students were able to work with my own personal albums (in protective sleeves) of course to create their own geometric abstractions. Students first experimented with watercolors and as the unit progressed we shifted focus to abstract artists Leon Polk Smith and Josef Albers and the 4th grade class was introduced to the concept of “hard edge”. Using painters tape and oil pastel I led a demonstration that dazzled the eager students with how clean the lines were. I brought my turntable and during each class period we would listen to a different table groups album while we worked. Incorporating music into the classroom was a huge success. Many students were excited by this unit on color and abstraction.
This lesson is centered around using line and shape as an introduction to using art materials along with a reading of the short story The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds. It is the story of a young girl, Vashti, who makes a simple dot drawing that kickstarts her art adventures. After reading the story Mr. Brownell introduced materials: tempera paint, q-tips, and paper and demonstrated the proper technique for the lesson’s dot paintings. Having students say “DOT DOT DOT” out loud for each dot made was super cute and encouraging for them. Kindergarteners were thrilled with this lesson and loved trying a new material to apply paint: Q-Tips!!
For this unit 2nd grade students observed and analyzed artwork and characters from stories and popular culture to create their own hand printed character. Students learned about foreground, middleground and background through several examples of landscapes and 3D renderings. Students made their initial sketches of familiar characters they had seen from TV shows or knew from books and continued practicing animal forms to the shape of their hand. In class each student was able to make a hand print using tempera paint and designed a background for the environment that their hand character lived in. When students finished they wrote a reflection about their work and made stories around the characters that they created.
This lesson done with 8th graders reviewed the history of postage stamps and reviewed the progression of different art styles used. Students learned ways to show emphasis on their topics.
The middle school where I student taught is part of an exciting grant where they have funding to learn about Thomas Jefferson. As a part of the grant, the school is planting an herb garden using heirloom seeds from Monticello. The herbs grown in the garden are then going to be used by the Family and Consumer Sciences classes as a “Farm-to-table” type of project. My sixth grade honors art students contributed to the project by creating plant marker prints of the herbs that will be used in the school’s garden. Each student was assigned an herb and made a plethora of styrofoam block prints. They experimented with many different paper colors, ink colors, and split-fountain techniques. Currently, they are working on larger block prints of gardens inspired by Jefferson’s gardens at Monticello.
The Interdisciplinary art classes created wall pockets out of terracotta clay. They learned about the tradition of clay vessels throughout world history and then were introduced to several different techniques for constructing a wall pocket. These paired quite nicely with the herb marker prints at the student teacher exhibition.
The unit for Ceramics 1 revolved around the handbuilding technique of pinching. Students were encouraged to address a prompt to come up with several habits that they observe within themselves and create a creature head around that habit. During the initial sketch discussion students shared many interesting ideas and habits such as procrastination, eating poorly or eating healthy. There was a mix of good and bad habits all around. Students were assessed on pinching technique with a number of samples to develop their skillset in pinching an even thickness in the walls of open and closed forms. Students then worked on forming their own ideas and habits with clay.