Last Sunday, I enjoyed a great exhibition titled, 30 Americans, at the Milwaukee Art Museum. I first learned of this exhibition years ago while preparing an art lesson for the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal.
I selected Kehinde Wiley as the artist to focus on and to demonstrate how meaning may be communicated through facial expressions and body language. I began looking for resources to share with the participating children (ages 5-12), and came across an online video promoting 30 Americans.
Fast forward to a couple of years later and the exhibition is only a short drive from my new home, teaching at Oregon Elementary School. I was thrilled to see so many artists' work I had studied and admired. Now I am able to share those works with my students.
My colleagues and I have been reviewing the latest draft of Common Core Art Standards. One of the priority standards will be to teach students how art may be presented. I decided to take this opportunity to introduce the concept of curating an exhibition to each sixth grade art class. These students are already studying Kehinde Wiley for a photo alteration project.
I first defined exhibition and curator for students to take notes in their sketchbooks. We then watched the following video to give us information about the 30 Americans exhibition.
After the video, I instructed each group of students to look at twelve images from 30 Americans and arrange them on a gallery map. Each table included a map, exhibition guides and printed images from the exhibition. I encouraged students to think about the following questions:
Below are images of the classroom setup, student collaboration and response activity
The student reflections poster was also inspired by the Milwaukee Art Museum. Pictured to the right is a wall within 30 Americans full of visitors' responses to the exhibition. I asked my students to write down what they thought, felt, liked or learned from this activity.
The reflections are on display next to a student gallery example in the Oregon Elementary School art hallway and is pictured below:
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