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.
Earlier this year I visited the Art Institute of Chicago to view the Roy Lichtenstein retrospective exhibit. My sixth grade students will be studying Lichtenstein at the end of this year. I wanted to take some photographs and learn more about the artist before we began our unit on Pop Art.
Unfortunately I was not permitted to photograph many of the works in the exhibit. However, I did take these photos and the exhibit inspired lots of potential classroom discussion questions.
Lichtenstein's best-known paintings were appropriated from comic strips. He used thick outlines, bold colors and Ben-Day dots to recreate the photographic reproduction style. I think students could easily approach these paintings with their previous knowledge of comic strips. Studying these paintings specifically could lead to a discussion on whether or not appropriation should be considered art.
Sixth grade students will be creating their own narrative scenes inspired by Lichtenstein later this year.
Lichtenstein is the perfect artist to demonstrate how different artists, art periods and cultures can inspire others. His later work was inspired by traditional Chinese paintings. He also mimicked different periods of art history such as Cubism and Non-Objective. Students could look at different works by Lichtenstein and try to identify the inspiration, based on their previous knowledge of art history. (Students will have studied Cubism and Non-Objective artwork earlier in the year, and Chinese paintings are studied in fourth grade.)
Lichtenstein is also a great artist to share with students because he was a successful painter AND sculptor. Below is one of his paintings from the retrospective, and a similar sculpture by Lichtenstein I saw in St. Louis last summer. I would like to show students these two works of art to compare and contrast. I would also like to encourage them to create art in a variety of media.
Below are additional works I enjoyed from the retrospective:
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