Monday, May 05, 2014

The Brackett School Annual Concert & Art Show 2014



This year's art exhibit, Calling All Voices: Exploring Music and Art Through the African Technique of Call and Response, was a huge 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!

Call and response is a form of verbal and non-verbal interaction between speaker and listener in which all of the statements ('calls') are punctuated by expressions ('responses') from the listener. In African cultures, call-and-response is a form of democratic participation—in public gatherings, in the discussion of civic affairs, in religious rituals, and in vocal and instrumental music. While call and response originated as an oral and musical form, in recent years the visual arts have creatively interpreted call and response as a means of pursuing and describing the inspirational process. Artists have always found inspiration from the work of other artists and cultures. In some cases, artists have created unique and personal work inspired by specific original artworks, in essence, a call and a response. For this year’s show, each grade was shown one specific work of African art as a “call” from which to derive inspiration from and to create a work of art demonstrating their own personal “response”.

STORY BANNER
Kindergarten

Kindergartners were first introduced to this lesson with a reading from the picture book, Why Mosquitoes Buzz In People’s Ears by Verna Aardema, an illustrated version of a well-known Ashanti tale from the oral tradition. After hearing the story, students were asked to think of other ways people can tell stories: orally, written, through dance and pantomime, and through visual pictures. Students were then shown an example of an African story banner used by the Fon people of West African, using symbolic animals and objects to tell the legends of past kings and their accomplishments. Students were also shown a story quilt by Harriet Powers created in 1886, and asked to identify similarities. Powers’ artworks were directly inspired by African applique techniques later adapted into American quiltmaking. Students were then told that they would be creating their own paper story banner in the manner of the Fon people using Why Mosquitoes Buzz In People’s Ears as the featured tale. Each child was instructed to construct 1-2 characters from the story, while considering character importance, size, pattern and creative use of color.


 THE CALL:


THE RESPONSE:





MUDCLOTH DESIGN
Grade One

To begin this lesson, first grade students were first shown two examples of traditional African textiles. Students were asked to examine the artworks carefully and explain what they noticed about the design, decorative use and function, as well as material construction. Students were then shown an abstract painting, Comedian’s Handbill, created by Paul Klee in 1938, and asked if they noticed any similarities between a sample of Kuba clothing textile and Klee’s painting. It was then explained that many artists such as Klee often look at the artworks of other artists for ideas and inspiration, often creating their own response to a particular work of art. Finally, students were shown an example of traditional mudcloth as created by the Bamana people of Mali. It was then explained how mudcloth textiles are woven by hand on small looms and the designs are created using a fermented mud process which stains the fabric and darkens with age. Students were given a piece of brown paper cut from a paper bag and using only neutral colors with various drawing materials, were instructed to carefully plan and create an artwork in response to this particular artwork. 

THE CALL:


THE RESPONSE:







PENDANT PINCH POTS
Grade Two

Students began this lesson with an instruction in clay pinch pot construction and surface techniques. While the pots were drying and being kiln-fired, students were shown an example of African pottery from Nigeria, created by the Nupe people. Students were asked how this pot was similar or different to the pinch pot they had constructed, as well as to identify any other interesting characteristics, such as the sgraffito surface technique and the addition of the wide top to prevent water from splashing out while the pot was carried. It was then explained that many artists often look at the artworks of other artists for ideas and inspiration, often creating their own response to a particular work of art. Students were then shown a piece of African jewelry, Ifa’s Diviners Necklace by the Yoruba people, an artwork discussed in a previous lesson. Students were asked to notice the texture, shapes, lines and colors used in the pendant’s design and to consider how those elements might inspire the decoration of their pinch pots. Students first applied india ink to the pot, and later used an oil pastel/ink resist technique to finish the decorative process.

THE CALL:

THE RESPONSE:









ADINKRA PRINTMAKING
Grade Three

Third grade students were first shown an example of traditional Adinkra cloth created by the Ashanti people of Ghana. Students were asked to examine the cloth and describe what they noticed about its design, composition and construction, as well as to determine the original intended use. Students noticed the cloth appeared to be printed with a series of patterns using carved stamps and it was explained that this cloth was traditionally used primarily for dressing Ashanti royalty. Students were then shown the collage, Snow Flowers, created by Henri Matisse in 1951, and asked to describe any similarities between Matisse’s collage and the Adinkra cloth. It was then explained that many artists such as Matisse often look at the artworks of other artists for ideas and inspiration, often creating their own response to a particular work of art. Students were then informed that they would be creating an artwork in response to another example of African art: a wooden door frame for a house carved by the Weh people of Cameroon. After identifying its origin and construction, students noticed similarities between the door frame and the Adinkra cloth with use of pattern and composition, and created styrofoam block prints inspired by the door frame.


THE CALL:


THE RESPONSE:










FOIL METAL RELIEF 
Grade Four

Fourth grade students began this lesson by examining and discussing Brass Plaque showing the Oba of Benin with attendants by the Edo people of Nigeria. After describing the artwork’s function, construction and symbolic meaning,  students were led to notice that relief sculptures, such as the plague, are different from freestanding, three-dimensional artworks and are intended to be viewed from one side rather than multiple sides. Students were then shown, African Art Inspired Wall Relief Sculpture, created by Dimitri Gerakaris in 1980, and a wooden fetish figure used and created by the Ashanti people of Ghana. It was then explained that artists continue to look at the artworks of other artists for ideas and inspiration, often creating their own response to a particular work of art, and were asked to draw parallel similarities between Gerakaris’ sculpture and the fetish figure to identify how and where that inspiration may have been derived. Finally, students were shown an example of a wooden hair comb created by the Akan people of Ghana. After discussing the artwork, students were instructed to use the comb as a “call” for a relief sculpture of their own design, constructed from cardboard and foil, and covered with india ink.


THE CALL:

THE RESPONSE:








MASK COLLAGE
Grade Five

Fifth grade students were shown an example of a helmet mask created and used by the Mende people of Sierra Leone. Students were asked to describe what they noticed about the mask and how it differed from other masks with which they may be familiar. The uses, symbolism and significance of masks in African societies were then discussed and compared to how masks have been typically used in many traditional and ancient cultures. In was then explained that beginning in the early 20th century, many artists saw African art for the first time and were deeply influenced by the abstraction and stylized representation of the human face and form. Students were shown examples of paintings by Pablo Picasso which incorporated direct inspiration of African masks, as well Les Fetishes by Lois Mailou Jones, an African-American artist who was inspired by the art of her ancestral heritage throughout her career. 
Students were then informed that they would be using Face Mask with Cloth Hood, created and used by the Kuba people of Dem. Rep. of Congo as the “call” from which they were to create a collage of their own design. Limited to using only the colors of the Kuba mask, students were encouraged to consider use, origin and design elements as possible inspiration.
THE CALL:

THE RESPONSE: