To coincide with our Harlem Renaissance unit in the classroom, fifth and sixth grade Art Club students collaborated to recreate an artwork by Jacob Lawrence. Students volunteered last week during their lunch and recess time to paint pieces of Lawrence's "Library" to assemble a 4x5 foot mural.
I removed all color from an image of Lawrence's painting in Adobe Photoshop. I enlarged the image to print across 36 sheets of 8.5x11 inch construction paper. The pieces were pinned to my classroom bulletin board surrounded by figures and works of The Harlem Renaissance.
Students who were interested in participating came during lunch and recess, a total of 42 minutes. We ate together in my classroom and as students finished eating, they were encouraged to select a piece of the mural to paint.
Students used tempera paint, just as Lawrence had used. Each student had to mix paints and identify their placement based on an image of the original painting.
This activity tied in well with our classroom discussion about how the arts reflect and impact communities. The students' creation will be viewed prominently in their own community at the Oregon Public Library this month.
As we continue our study of The Harlem Renaissance, each student will create an original artwork with accompanying written story or poem as well as a personal selection of music. Each class will curate an exhibition of their peers to also display in the community.
I am very proud of how hard these students worked and for volunteering their time last week to participate. The mural looks amazing thanks to their dedication!
The students' mural is now on display at Oregon Public Library!
Sixth grade students recently helped design the school yearbook cover. Rather than highlight just one individual, each student's artwork is featured on the cover.
I designed this project to not only complete the cover, but also add a learning experience to our existing curriculum. Our units of study are: Baroque, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Cubism, The Harlem Renaissance, Collage/Assemblage, and Pop Art. Last year's sixth grade students created a Pop Art-inspired cover (see Individuals Create Unity)
This year, I decided to design the lesson around artist, Jacob Lawrence. Students will learn more about Lawrence this spring when they research about the many different musicians, writers and visual artists of The Harlem Renaissance.
I recently discovered Events in the Life of Harold Washington, a mosaic Lawrence made in 1991 for the Harold Washington Library in Chicago. I visited the library to see the work in person this summer. Below are photographs of the mosaic in full, and also in closer detail. Like many of Lawrence's great paintings, the environment and figures have been abstracted into bold shapes of color.
This year, the sixth grade students created mosaics inspired by this style. Using a limited color palette of primary and neutral colors (similar to Lawrence), students designed their own unique mosaic using construction paper.
Each student personalized their design using pattern and symbols to reflect their own interests. I photographed and digitally assembled the artwork to complete the cover with text and our Oregon Hawk mascot.
The mosaics are works of art individually, but are even more successful as a collaborative design. Community is a prevalent theme in much of Lawrence's artwork. I hope this project is a strong metaphor for students to understand the value of working together.
Below are examples of student work:
Mr. DeWilde's Blog
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