The sixth grade art curriculum introduces students to many historical periods, beginning with the Baroque style and concluding with American Pop Art.
In the spring, students are introduced to the collage process made popular by artists such as Garth Erasmus and Robert Rauschenberg.
These are two of my favorite artists, and both have influenced how I create my own work. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to share my enthusiasm for these artists with students.
(Pictured below are works by Garth Erasmus)
Garth Erasmus, The Muse 3, 1995. Acrylic on paper (pictured right).
The self-portrait collage project was inspired by this Erasmus artwork titled, The Muse 3. Students photographed one another using a digital camera, while posed against a white background. Each student cut the printed photograph in half and recreated their self-portrait using the media of his or her choice.
The background for their self-portraits was to describe identity, personality or interests. Some students communicated this using text, while others used abstract shapes and colors. Each project was unique to the individual.
This was one of the most successful projects for sixth grade students last year. I think the use of printed photographs with the collage process was a new, exciting experience for students. Many were motivated to create their best work of the year. I look forward to seeing how this project may change and evolve later this year with my current sixth grade students
(Below are student examples of self-portrait collages)
(Pictured below are works by Robert Rauschenberg)
Robert Rauschenberg, Retroactive I, 1963. Oil and silkscreen ink on canvas (pictured left)
For our next project, students studied the work of Robert Rauschenberg. Although we read and had a class discussion about his life and career, we focused on Retroactive I, as our inspiration.
Each student was asked to brainstorm a list of images that would best represent their year as a sixth grader in 2012-2013. Just as Retroactive I embodies the American experience of 1963, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Students chose images from popular culture and added text, drawings and color to their compositions.
(Below are student examples of personal collages)
I really enjoyed teaching the collage unit, and introducing Garth Erasmus and Robert Rauschenberg to each class. Many of the students chose their Erasmus-inspired self-portrait to display in our school art show. I was thrilled to see them take such pride in their work. I hope the experience will be one students remember fondly from sixth grade art class.
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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