Thursday, April 03, 2008
This year's art exhibit, Once Upon A Time In America: Folk Art and Folk Music From the Last 150 Years In America, was a big success thanks to the hard work of students and the support of Brackett staff and families. As always, many thanks for your ongoing support and appreciation!
SONGS OF THE AMERICAN RAILROAD
Kindergarteners began this lesson by viewing a Currier & Ives print of Prairie Fires of the Great West and comparing how the train has changed in design from its original appearance when first invented in the 1800s.
Students then discussed the folk art of weathervane-making and its primitive ability to predict the course of weather and wind. Various examples of weathervanes were examined, ranging from animals to Native American archers. Railroad trains and engines have been among the more popular choices of weathervanes in the 19th century, and kindergarteners were instructed to create one of their own, whether it be a train of early style or modern design.
CERAMIC HEAD FINGER PUPPETS
SONGS OF SOUTH/PLAY-PARTIES
To keep with the theme of children’s folk songs and dances, students in grade one viewed many examples of early American toy-making, a folk art created primarily by parents without the economical means of buying toys for their children. Dolls and puppets were two such popular toys, and could be crafted from any number of various materials. Some children every created toys for their own use.
After discussing the many types of dolls found in early folk art, students were instructed to design their own finger puppet based on a person, animal or creature.
SOUTHWESTERN PUEBLO PINCH POTS
SONGS OF NATIVE AMERICA
For this lesson, students in the second grade were introduced to the native people of the southwestern states by looking at several examples of Anasazi pottery. Commonly known as “pueblo”, the native people of this region were given this name, meaning “people” by the Spanish colonists. Students were led in discussion and guided to notice the geometric and often angular patterns and shapes of traditional Anasazi designs. Students learned that clay is a natural earthen material that can be found in abundance in the southwestern states, and how pottery was made and used by the native people living there.
Students were also shown examples of Pueblo pottery which featured more figurative designs such as stylized animals and divine creatures and gods. Students learned that most Native Americans were more interested in depicting the inner spirit of a person or animal, rather than a life-like resemblance.
After creating a pinch pot from clay, the pots were fired and ready for decorating. Students were instructed to compose their own design, taking the shape and structure of the vessel into consideration, and were limited in their color palette to only natural, earth tones.
ANIMALS OF APPALACHIA STITCHERY
SONGS OF APPALACHIA
Appalachia is known for its music, basket-weaving and textile crafts such as quilt-making. Because of its unique terrain, the region of Appalachia remained unchanged and uninfluenced by the outside world for many years. Students discussed how these living conditions would influence a person’s work, lifestyle and creations.
The use of stencils on home textiles, as well as needlepoint, were two popular folk crafts made during the 19th century. Third graders looked at many examples of various textiles crafts, including embroidery, quilts, needlepoint samplers and stenciled textiles. They were then instructed to combine these crafts into a burlap stitchery around the theme of wildlife found in the Appalachian mountain region.
PAINTING THE FRONTIER EXPERIENCE
SONGS OF THE WESTWARD EXPANSION
Students in the fourth grade discussed the historical factors and people involved with the frontier experience, from pioneer families to native tribes, as well as the reasons why the expansion took place. While little folk art has survived the dangerous and difficult circumstances of living on the prairie, students compared how the art of photography captured and differed from the popular American West paintings that were generated at that time. One such painter, Frederick Remington, was a professional painter of the American West theme, but was largely self-taught with little formal training.
Students were then instructed to create a painting of what life on the prairie was really life from any perspective: pioneers, trappers, Native Americans, cattle ranchers, etc.
SONGS OF THE NEW ENGLAND MARITIME
Fifth graders began this lesson by comparing the painting, Watson and the Shark by John Singleton Copley, with an early folk painting done by a mariner on a whaling expedition. This comparison was used to help students understand the differences between folk art and academically trained art. Many examples of mariner’s art was shown, including ship figureheads and sculpture, with the emphasis being on the art of scrimshaw: a process of scratching designs into a piece of whalebone with a needle and rubbing black oil into the marks to fill the design. Many mariners would fill empty hours at sea with such past-times.
Student were then introduced to scratchboard, a technique which allowed them to understand the subtractive process of a scratching a design into a surface, and were required to use nautical subject matter.