Last Friday I presented a lesson on multimedia portraits to students K-5 in a community center setting. I began with a brief introduction to the quilts of Gee's Bend. I showed the students images of the work, and explained how the women of Gee's Bend had past on their skills from from generation to generation. Several of the students said they had family members who quilted at home. Students identified shapes and patterns found in the quilt images. I explained the difference between warm and cool colors. Students responded that warm colors reminded them of the sun, while cool colors made them think of water. One student identified that bright colors may symbolize happiness. I was thrilled with his observation and explained how color can express emotion.
I asked the students to create two "quilt" squares using construction paper. The students were allowed to create their own patterns using different shapes and colors. Once they had completed one square, I asked them to bring it to the front of the room to be placed on a collaborative mural. The mural would be used for the second phase of the project.
Once several of the students had contributed a square to the mural, students began posing for photographs in the style of Kehinde Wiley's paintings. At the beginning of the lesson we looked at images of Wiley's work. Students identified the complex backgrounds and how in some areas the background overlaps the figure. I asked students to describe the emotion each portrait suggested by how the figure was standing. The students identified one portrait as a man who looked tough, and another of a man who looked happy and proud. We talked about how our facial expressions communicate emotion, but also how we stand and present ourselves.
Students took several poses in front of the collaborative "quilt" mural. They posed in a variety of expressive stands and expressions. See Student Work page for examples.
Art Production: Create a geometric design using construction paper inspired by the quilts of Gee Bends. Communicate an emotion by posing in an in the style of Kehinde Wiley for at least one photograph.
Art History: Identify the purpose of story-telling in the quilts of Gee Bends and the paintings of Kehinde Wiley.
Art Criticism: Describe how warm and cool colors convey emotion.
Aesthetics: Describe whether quilting is of equal, lesser or greater value than portrait painting.
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