Tuesday, April 23, 2013
This year's art exhibit, Peace and Justice for All: Art and Music Inspired by the Quest for Social Justice, was a big success thanks to the hard work of students and the support of Peirce staff and families. As always, many thanks for your ongoing support and appreciation!
PEACE WINDOW INSTALLATION
Social Theme: Peace and Hope
Artworks Examined: Marc Chagall, The Peace Window, United Nations Building, NY, 1964
Kindergarten students began this lesson with a discussion in response to questions such as: “What is peace?”
“What is hope?” “Why is peace/hope important?” “What makes you feel peaceful?”
Students were then shown examples of stained glass windows designed by Expressionist painter, Marc Chagall (1887-1985), with particular focus on The Peace Window he designed for the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Chagall created many of these peace-themed windows which are displayed in various buildings, internationally. Inspired by Chagall’s own life which was once filled with tragic events, the windows are filled with images symbolizing peace, love, tolerance and faith. After examining and discussing the windows and their imagery, students were led through a series of steps to construct their own mock stained glass windows using tissue paper, watercolors and acetate sheets. They were then instructed to draw images of subjects that evoke peaceful thoughts or feelings, as well as symbols which represent peace and hope to them.
THE DIVERSITY TREE
Social Theme: Equality and Diversity
Artworks Examined: four examples, including: Jane Golden, Simon Huelsbeck, The History of Immigration Mural (Equal Rights detail), Philadelphia, PA, 1993 and 2001
Carlos Callejo, Deborah Bigelow, Joan Robbins, The Rainbow of Diversity Mural, Seattle, WA, 1998
Students in the first grade began this lesson by discussing the meaning of two words: equality and diversity. Most students already understand how to define “equal” value, and were led through a brief discussion of equality with regards to people and equal rights, including an introduction and explanation of The Right to Equality from the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Students then discussed the meaning of diversity and how it differs from equality. Students were led to notice that while we are all different, with different thoughts, appearances and preferences, we are also all equal and entitled to the same rights and opportunities.
Students were then shown examples of murals painted in different U.S. cities which celebrate the diversity of the cultures and people who reside there and in the United States, overall. Students discussed the use of symbolic imagery by the artists to depict and celebrate these social concepts, both as goals and as historic events. Using a tree and its leaves as an example, students were informed that they would be creating a wall installation similar to a mural in the form of a Diversity Tree. Each first grader was instructed to create a drawing of leaf from a large selection of tree varieties, as there are many species of trees and leaves of all shapes and sizes. Using oil pastels and watercolors, students were then instructed to decorate their leaf to their own personal preference, using color and pattern to represent themselves as individuals. Students were led to notice the symbolism of a tree with many different leaves, each of equal importance, as a metaphor for humanity.
WHAT EVERY PERSON NEEDS
Social Theme: Poverty
Artworks Examined: Dorothea Lange, The Migrant Mother, 1936
Kathe Kollwitz, Brot! (Bread!), 1924
Duane Hanson, Homeless Person, 1991
Second graders began this lesson by examining and comparing two artworks: The Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange and Brot! by Kathe Kollwitz. Students noticed the many similarities between the artworks, including the composition, subject matter and emotional feeling. Students then began to imagine the story behind each of these images and what the human subjects were feeling and experiencing. Students were given a brief explanation of what inspired the artists of each of these artworks and the events which gave rise to people in desperate conditions, namely migrant farm workers during The Great Depression and war’s role in poverty post-World War I in Europe. After considerable discussion, students were shown Duane Hanson’s lifelike sculpture, Homeless Person, and discussed how the artist represented a person living in a situation that is both complex and recognizable in today’s world. Following a discussion of factors that can lead to poverty, students were asked to describe the difference between want and need and were asked to list as many things as possible that all people need in their lives to survive and thrive.
Students were then led through a series of instructions in creating their own scratchboard from oil pastels covered in tempera paint to create a “home” with a drawing of items every home should have. Students were asked to use the steps leading up to the house to list other important needs in life, apart from basic, physical needs.
TOGETHER AS ONE
Social Theme: Unity
Artworks Examined: J. Howard Miller, “We Can Do It!”, 1943
Trish Moreno, Unity, 2009
Shepard Fairey, Defend Equality, Love Unites, 2009
To explore the concept of social unity, students in third grade discussed the meaning of unity and the many reasons why people unite and the kinds of events which bring people together, i.e. emotional support, celebration, accomplishment of a difficult task, comfort after a tragedy, etc. Students then examined and discussed three illustrated advocacy posters, all of which were designed to generate a feeling a teamwork, strength, accomplishment and spirit. Students were led to notice the symbolic use of a raised fist to represent group strength and solidarity in all of the posters, as well as their intended messages, and historical and current social context.
Students were then instructed to create a self-portrait using the printmaking technique of block printing using styrofoam sheets instead of the traditional material of wood. Students were given a demonstration and brief explanation of the historical origins of printmaking to help them better understand this special art form. Once the styrofoam printing plates were created, students were able to create multiple copies, or prints, of their self-portrait drawings. The final prints were unified by color to create a display of the entire third grade class, joined as a visual reminder that together all things are possible.
THE FABRIC OF AMERICAN IDENTITYGrade Four
Social Theme: Immigration
Artworks Examined: Olga Waters, See the Light Down Under, 2003
Yolanda M. Lopez, Who’s the Illegal Alien, PILGRIM?, 1978
Yong Soon Min, Make Me, 1989
Raoul Deal, Dream Act, 2011
Carol Highsmith, Flag of Faces photo exhibit, Ellis Island, NY, 2006
Fourth grade students first began this lesson by discussing and listing the many reasons why a person would choose to leave their home and immigrate to a new homeland, such as educational opportunities, better employment and political strife. Then a second list was created of the challenges one might encounter from immigrating, such as financial difficulties, lack of acceptance and cultural differences. Students were then shown several artworks from artists depicting their own immigration experiences and/or responses to immigration issues. Students discussed and analyzed the range of these experiences, from hopeful and optimistic, to confrontation of cultural stereotypes and were led to interpret the artists’ meanings. Finally, students were reminded through artworks such as Flag of Faces by Carol Highsmith and Who’s the Illegal Alien, PILGRIM? by Yolanda Lopez that immigration is a continuously evolving part of the history and identity of the United States.
Given the fact that most Americans can identify personal heritage from outside the United States, it calls to mind that we all have roots originating from immigrants. Students were instructed to think of the heritage of their own ancestry and locate and identify the flag(s) of the countries of their family roots using geography resources. Once the flags were identified and sketched, students were instructed to create an abstract design using the visual elements of their ancestral flag(s) making particular use of the colors, shapes, lines and symbols. Students were encouraged to reconstruct flag components beyond their usual recognition. The designs were then transferred and painted onto small sections of cloth using a color resist technique and later reassembled into a large-scale wall hanging.
RISING ABOVE PERSONAL ADVERSITY
Social Theme: Overcoming Adversity
Artists Examined: Lois Mailou Jones (American, 1905-1998)
Chuck Close, (American, 1940- )
Fifth grade students discussed the subject and meaning of adversity and the kinds of obstacles that can arise in our lives and prevent us from being successful and achieving our goals. Students were then introduced to two artists: Lois Mailou Jones and Chuck Close, both of whom overcame very different and challenging adversities to become accomplished and celebrated artists. Jones pursued higher education and a career in the art and academic fields in the 1930-40s. As an African-American woman, Jones overcame social and professional discrimination while promoting public awareness of the contribution of black artists to art history and wished, above all, to be viewed as an artist without labels to describe her race or gender. Her work celebrated African and Caribbean cultures and is known and collected worldwide. Close achieved fame early in his career as a Hyperrealist portrait painter despite having a rare neurological disorder which prevented his from recognizing facial features. To further complicate matters, he later suffered a spinal collapse which resulted in permanently having to use a wheelchair. In addition, Close lost all fine motor use of his hands and fingers and had to adjust his environment in order to continue painting in the realistic, large-scale format for which he is known. Overcoming all physical challenges, Close continues to be a premiere figure in contemporary art.Students were instructed to create a semi-portrait of themselves, using only the tops of their heads. Beneath their likeness, students were asked to list four important qualities they possess which would help them use their strengths to overcome life’s challenges and adversities.