Friday, April 01, 2011

The Brackett School Annual Concert and Art Show 2011

This year's art exhibit, The Dragon, the Crane and the Tiger: Voices and Perspectives of East Asiawas 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!

For this lesson, Kindergarten students were introduced to the culture and country of China with a reading of D is for Dancing Dragon: A China Alphabet by Carol Cane, which briefly explained many aspects of Chinese culture, history and geography in an illustrated A to Z format. Of course, G stood for the Great Wall and students were then shown several photographs of the 4000 mile long structure, the longest built in human history! Students were told some important key points about the wall and how it came to exist. Students were also led to notice many features of the wall, including the patterns and texture of the bricks and the miniature castle-like ‘gates’ which extend throughout the length of the wall.
Students were then instructed to imagine themselves taking a trip to visit the Great Wall of China and to consider the view they would likely experience. Using collage, students were directed to cut free form and geometric shapes to create their own section of the wall, while thinking about distance and pattern. They were also encouraged to include a drawing of themselves as tourists paying a visit to The Great Wall.

Grade One
First graders were first shown several examples of Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. These examples ranged from simple, traditional sculptures to more complex, contemporary creations. Finally, students were shown examples of origami that had been utilized in temporary, site-specific artworks known as installations. These sculptural creations by contemporary artists push the boundaries of what is typically expected when one thinks of origami and transform the viewing space for the viewer.
Students were read the magical story about an origami doll which comes to life entitled, Little Oh by Jim LaMarche. First graders were then given small group instruction in creating a simple origami sculpture of a carrier pigeon. Students were informed that their paper birds would be combined with many others created by other first graders to create a large-scale, grade level installation, thus creating unity, as well as space transformation. 

Grade Two
Students in the second grade began this lesson by examining two examples of Korean lacquerware and a traditional Korean wedding robe, and were led through a discussion of auspicious symbolism and how it has been used in East Asian countries, particularly in the home and on household objects. Students were led to notice the use of mother-of-pearl and black lacquer used in a craft made famous by Korean artists.
Students were then read aloud the story, The Korean Cinderella by Shirley Climo, again noting the use of traditional symbolism used by the book’s illustrator, Ruth Heller. Later, students were given the opportunity to read aloud and pantomime the characters in short skits taken from two traditional Korean folktales: “The Pheasant, the Dove and the Magpie” and “The Rabbit’s Judgement”. Once the skits had been performed for the class, students created their own scratchboard paper from metallic crayons covered with black paint to resemble the lacquerware made famous in Korea. The illustrations were then scratched into the paint surface to reveal the colors beneath.

Grade Three
Students in the third grade were first shown a map of Asia and engaged in a discussion regarding cultural similarities between the three East Asian countries and their common origins in China. Students were then given a brief overview of the East Asian primary religious systems, in particular, Daoism, Shintoism and Shamanism, noting commonalities in these belief systems that place spiritual importance and emphasis on the power of nature.
Students were shown several examples of Japanese landscape painting and were led to notice how nature is portrayed in monumental and mystical terms and how these paintings have been influenced by Daoist philosophies. Examples of Japanese traditional and Zen gardens were also shown as examples of natural places used for the purpose of meditative spaces and communing with nature. Third graders were then introduced to the “Three Perfections” of East Asia: calligraphy, painting and poetry, and the Japanese poetic form known as Haiku. Students were given the opportunity to read many examples of haiku written by Japanese and American poets, as well as haiku written by other children from around the world. After discussing the most famous of Japanese poets, Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), students were given a reading of the book, Basho and the Fox by Tim J. Myers. Finally, students were instructed to write a haiku of their own about a memorable personal experience with nature. Haikus were to be written in the true structure of haiku that follows the rule of being three lines and one breath in length. Once written, students created illustrations to accompany their haiku, thus creating what is known as a haiga. Students were shown several examples of traditional and contemporary haigas for inspiration.

Grade Four
The focus of this lesson was to explore the practical use of auspicious symbolism in East Asian art, with a particular focus on Korean art and symbolism, as well as the art of Asian pottery, the Asian porcelain industry and the stylistic influences in pottery between the three countries. Students were first shown a map of Asia and engaged in a discussion regarding cultural similarities between the three East Asian countries and their common origins in China. Students were then given a brief overview of the “Three Faiths”, or East Asian primary religious systems: Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism, as well as Shamanism, as it is uniquely practiced in Korea, and its connection to the Three Faiths. Examples were shown to demonstrate the many items created to contain auspicious symbolism, how it was used, the meaning of the symbols and their origins. Students were then shown several examples of traditional Chinese, Japanese and Korean pottery and discussed the stylistic characteristics, similarities and influences as seen in the artworks.
Students were then instructed to create pottery vessels that incorporate self-invented symbols in the manner of Korean symbolism to represent their personal hopes and wishes. These vessels were crafted from pottery clay in the technique of coil hand-building and were fired and glazed upon completion. Handouts were distributed listing many examples of auspicious Korean symbols to help inform and inspire students. 

China, Japan
Grade Five
The focus of this lesson was to explore the principals of filial piety and its effects on family structure as it is practiced in East Asia today and its roots in Confucianism. Students were shown a map of Asia and engaged in a discussion regarding cultural similarities between the three countries of East Asia and their common origins in China. Students were then given a brief overview of the “Three Faiths”, or East Asian primary religious systems: Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism. 
Students were then shown examples of East Asian artworks devoted to the celebration and practice of ancestral reverence, such as ancestor shrines and handcrafted paper offerings used in annual festivals to remember and celebrate the dead. Students were instructed to create collage paper “shrines” to honor family members/friends, past and/or present. Students were encouraged to use a wide variety of collage papers, drawings and personal objects to create mixed media tributes to special people in their lives, using a shoebox or box lid as a “shrine”.