Over the weekend I went to The Art Institute of Chicago with a few friends for the museum's After Dark event. We arrived at the Modern Wing and entered the crowded lobby to the sounds of live music. After listening to the group of musicians, we snacked on appetizers and moved through the sea of people.
We were just in time to enter galleries 182-184. The exhibition was titled, They Seek a City: Chicago and the Art of Migration, 1910-1950. Prior to the event, I read about the exhibition on the museum's website. I was excited to see the variety of work because it relates to what my some of my classes are currently studying.
My sixth graders were recently introduced to Jacob Lawrence, an artist of the Harlem Renaissance. While not an artist of this exhibition, nor from Chicago, students read about his work, The Migration Series. The 60-panel series depicts the migration of African Americans from the South to the North. The first panel of this series shows African American figures about to embark on the journey to one of three cities: New York, St. Louis, or Chicago.
I discovered that just as Harlem had developed a rich culture of the arts, so had Chicago. In fact this period of history is known as the Chicago Black Renaissance. I plan to learn more about this group of creative individuals to add to the sixth grade unit of American art in the mid-twentieth century. African American artists such as Eldzier Cortor, Charles Wright, and Archibald Motley, Jr. were artists I was not familiar with prior to this exhibition.
The galleries also featured work from Mexican and European immigrants to Chicago. Their paintings, prints, and sculptures told stories of Chicago's political and social climate from their unique perspectives. Many of these artists moved to Chicago for greater freedom. With freedom came the opportunity to create works of art that described personal experience and protested social conditions.
Below are images of artwork featured in They Seek a City: Chicago and the Art of Migration, 1910-1950. On display March 3 - June 2, 2013 at The Art Institute of Chicago.
In the spring of 2010, I participated in a TASK Party at University Galleries in Normal, Illinois. At the time, I was a graduate student at Illinois State University.
A professor encouraged our class to meet Oliver Herring, an experimental artist visiting from New York. Herring was at the university to direct an improvisational event, known as a TASK Party. The experience stuck with me as I transitioned to my first teaching job at Oregon Elementary School.
As explained on http://oliverherringtask.wordpress.com/ ,
All TASK structures, the events, parties and workshops rely on the same basic infrastructure: a designated area (usually but not necessarily made from construction paper), a variety of props and materials (cardboard, plastic bags, pencils, tables cling wrap, tape, markers, ladders…) and the participation of people who agree to follow two simple, procedural rules: to write down a task on a piece of paper and add it to a designated “TASK pool,” and, secondly, to pull a task from that pool and interpret it any which way he or she wants, using whatever is on (or potentially off) stage. When a task is completed, a participant writes a new task, pulls a new task, and so on.
At the beginning of this school year, I introduced a few classes to the concept of TASK. I wanted to share this experience with my students, in order to encourage collaboration and creative thinking. I did not provide specific examples, in hopes that each class would develop their own unique experience. As they worked, and often played, I observed and photographed examples of creative problem-solving. I noted that the majority of tasks resulted in creating a tangible artwork. However, one group did interpret the task to "make cell phones" as creating their own cell phone commercial. I wanted to encourage others to complete their tasks in such an unconventional way, but felt it was more important to allow their own personal interpretations.
I have used TASK parties to promote group accountability and reward positive behaviors. If the entire class exceeds our behavior expectations for the day, they may vote on a group reward. Of the classes who have earned such a reward, many have chosen to participate in a TASK party. As the year has gone on, I have found it difficult to schedule a TASK party around our existing curriculum. I think in the future I may incorporate TASK as its own unit, rather than a behavior incentive. I would like to involve students more in the planning, and provide them with more information on artist, Oliver Herring.
Below are photographs from various TASK parties at Oregon Elementary School:
Mr. DeWilde's Blog
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