Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Brackett School Annual Concert and Art Show 2012

This year's art exhibit, Out of Darkness, Into the Dawn: The Middle Ages Meet the Renaissancewas 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!


PORTALS AND PATTERNS AND TILES, OH MY!
Kindergarten
 Kindergarten students began this lesson with a short discussion of medieval buildings. Students were then shown pictures of only one, distinct part of two selected medieval buildings: their entrances, or ‘portals’. The selected images contained elaborate, heavily decorated exterior and interior entrances within the Saint-Pierre Cathedral at Moissac, France and the famous Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. Students were led to notice that each of these portals and surrounding walls contained patterns of many kinds, which kindergarten students where then asked to identify.
Students were then shown several examples of the interior tile work within the Alhambra Palace, built by the Muslim Moors in the 14th century and considered a significant example off medieval Islamic architecture. Again, students were led to notice the patterns, colors, and shapes used throughout the palace, as well as how ceramic tiles are constructed and what they are often used for within interior buildings.
Students were then informed that they would be creating paper “tiles” to be used in constructing a large-scale portal entrance. Students were given stencil tracers in a shape inspired by actual tiles from the Alhambra Palace and colored paper with which students organized into a pattern of their own design.









A CREST OF ONE’S OWN:
PERSONAL HERALDRY and CLASS BANNERS
Grade One
Students in grade one began this lesson with a brief discussion of knights, castles and very general medieval information to help acquaint them with the Middle Ages era. Students were then shown examples of medieval paintings depicting knights in full dressage,  as well as photographs of actors in knightly reenactment costumes. Attention was brought to the painted shields and matching surcoats worn by each knight. Students discussed the use and purpose of such symbols for personal identification and family name during times of battle and during jousting tournaments. Students also discussed and explained that symbols are pictures which possess special meaning and how they can be used to represent many things, including personal individuality.
Students were then shown several examples of actual shield designs used by knights and families during the Middle Ages, known as ‘crests’ or ‘coat-of-arms’. This symbolic use of family identity is known as ‘heraldry’. Students were instructed to create they own personal crest using symbols of their own choosing to best represent themselves, personal characteristics, interests, hobbies and favorite things. Once the individual shields were complete, each first grade class worked collaboratively to construct a medieval-style banner to represent their class. Students determined the composition, colors, ideas, and the symbolic images they wished to use to represent themselves and their class, as a school “family”.










KING ARTHUR COLLAGE TAPESTRIES
Grade Two
Students in grade two began this lesson with a brief discussion exploring what they knew about the Middle Ages and what life was like for people who lived through the period following the collapse of the Roman Empire known as, The Dark Ages. Students were informed that it was during this early transitional period that the legend of King Arthur was believed to have occurred, and that they would be listening to a reading of the story from a picture book. Students were also told that the story, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, was very popular with medieval audiences, most of whom could not read and relied on the art of singing troubadours to relay the tale. Students were then engaged in a brain-storming session when asked what scenes and characters from the story they felt were important and would include if they were to illustrate the legend of King Arthur. A list of scenes was generated on the board and copied for future reference. Students were then shown two famous examples of medieval ‘tapestries’, the Bayeux Tapestry and The Unicorn Is Found. Tapestries were a popular artistic craft used to decorate castle walls while depicting stories. Students examined and compared the two tapestries and were then told they would be creating a large, collaborative paper “tapestry” depicting scenes from the story of King Arthur. Many classmates worked together and all students contributed to the final work.









ARCHITECTURAL FACADES:
CASTLES AND CATHEDRALS
Grade Three
To help students grasp the complicated and unique qualities of the artwork produced during the Middle Ages, students in grade three were introduced to a brief history of the medieval period through discussion and visual timelines. Once students were familiar with the events and characteristics of this era, they were introduced to more specific artworks and the reasons for its creation.
Students in grade three were informed that they would be focusing their projects on two of the most prominently known types of medieval buildings: castles and cathedrals. Students were introduced to the primary styles of cathedral architecture known as ‘gothic’ and ‘romanesque’, as well as discussing the similarities and differences. Students also learned to identify important architectural features of both buildings, from the battlements, loopholes and turrets of castles to the arches, spires and flying buttresses of cathedrals.
Students were then instructed to create a paper collage facade of either a castle or cathedral of their own design. They were required to include appropriate architectural details and were encouraged to consider scale, placement and repetition during their final construction.












GARGOYLES AND GROTESQUES
Grade Four
To help students grasp the complicated and unique qualities of the artwork produced during the Middle Ages, students in grades four and five were first introduced to the medieval period through various activities. Group work, visual timelines, videos and discussion were used to help immerse students in the events that caused the collapse of the Roman Empire and the difficult transition that followed which would ultimately allow new cultures to emerge throughout Europe. Once students were familiar with the events and characteristics of this era, they were introduced to more specific artworks and the reasons for its creation.
Students in grade four were shown several examples of cathedrals constructed during the Middle Ages and discussed the reasons why these immense Christian churches were built. Students were also led to notice some of the stylistic characteristics present in cathedrals and how these were intended to help medieval people feel closer to their religious faith. In stark contrast, students were shown examples of the unexpected exterior statues known as ‘gargoyles’ and discussed the possible reasons for their creation. Gargoyles are statue-like water spouts for the building’s gutter system, but the reason for their strange appearance reminds a much-debated mystery. Grotesques, on the other hand, are used only for decoration and possess no practical function for the building.
Students are instructed to create their own clay gargoyle or grotesque in either a human, animal or creature likeness. Just as with actual gargoyles, the design could be humorous, scary, spooky, charming or mundane. The clay sculptures were then fired in a kiln and colored with watercolor paint.












ILLUMINATED NAME POEMS
Grade Five
To help students grasp the complicated and unique qualities of the artwork produced during the Middle Ages, students in grades four and five were first introduced to the medieval period through various activities. Group work, visual timelines, videos and discussion were used to help immerse students in the events that caused the collapse of the Roman Empire and the difficult transition that followed which would ultimately allow new cultures to emerge throughout Europe. Once students were familiar with the events and characteristics of this era, they were introduced to more specific artworks and the reasons for its creation.
Students in grade five were shown many examples of pages from illustrated, handmade books created by monks living in monasteries during there Middle Ages. These books are known as ‘illuminated manuscripts’ because the pages were often decorated with gold leafing which caused the books to appear to glow when opened. Students discussed the reasons why these books were created and what made them so valuable and subject to looting. Students were also led to notice the style and manner of decoration and extreme embellishment which monks used to illustrate the books’ text.
Finally, students were instructed to write a style of poem known as acrostic, in which each line is derived from letters in their name. The subject of the poem was left entirely to the students but special emphasis was placed upon the decoration of the first letter, similar to actual medical manuscripts. Students could choose their first, middle, last or nickname was were encouraged to include decorative borders, embellishments and illustrations to accompany the text.