Lessons: Art Imitates Life
Art and Self-Examination
The Importance of Self-Awareness
"He who knows the universe and does not know himself knows nothing." ~~Jean De La Fontane, 1679
Self awareness is the ability to recognize your feelings and to differentiate between them, to know what you are feeling and why and to know what caused the feelings (Brook & Stein, 2000).
Self-awareness is the foundation of the emotional intelligence quotient. Mastering this skill is essential to personal growth and one's ability to affect those around them. It is the aura we summon up within ourselves and what we emit into the universe.
In a world driven by waves of innovative technology with online social networking taking the forefront of most communication, it is important to invite into the classroom setting interchanges that assist students in developing this important skill. This can be easily achieved by infusing the arts into your instruction.
As I have discussed in prior hubs, the perception of art and deliverance of art is idiosyncratic, as unique as the instructor who teaches in each classroom. And, it is incumbent upon that instructor to shed his/her insecurities in order to model what he/she hopes to accomplish in a lesson that requires openness leading to creativity--- what we don't say is oftentimes more important than what we do say.
Selection of Art
Artwork can simply be an enlarged grain of salt (for Andy Warhol, the mundane was artfully seen as a sonata), a collection of interesting objects, a picture of a funny pose or funny face; it is whatever strikes your fancy, so hold that thought.
Now, I realize that I am not for everyone's palate, but that's okay because maybe you'll respond to this hub and share some of your ideas with me. After all, growth only occurs when we open ourselves up to the constellations and universe at large.
Having said that let's play with the idea of excavating our souls through the rich treasures of portraiture.
Feet, why do I need them if I have wings to fly? Frida Kahlo
Analyzing Works of Art
Students must feel comfortable and not fear judgment when opening up to abstract thinking. You might want to integrate a round of texting that permits them to critique using characters to initiate the process. Have them take a picture with their cellular devices and possibly share through a tweet the work of art and leave a commentary (or via Facebook). Of greater importance, get the ball rolling about the work of art and "their feelings."
I have chosen the genre of self-portraits (Frida is a Mexican surrealist) because it is a great way to learn more about the artist's inner self-talk via visual representation. Take a look at Frida Kahlo's work (posted) and see what you think?
Have the students (and you) consider the following elements:
1.Color or absence of color
4. Realism, or fantasy
7. Narrative-What story is coming through this visual?
8.Question intent-what is the meaning here?
9. Time period of piece
10. What should the title be? You ideas.
12. Movement or stillness
13.Is there an emphasis on anything in the piece?
Have the students jot down notes or use their devices with apps, "Evernote" to interpret the art. Always remember to reside in "their world" by implementing toys for tools because you will capture their minds and hearts and they will remember the experience.
Some Essential Questions to Consider
1.What kind of feelings do you get when you view this portrait?
2. What do you think the artist was thinking when painting this picture?
3.How do you think she feels about herself? Support your answer by using visual examples you see.
4. What kind of questions would you raise to the artist about this work of art?
5. What else do you want to know about this artist as a result of viewing her work?
Frida Kahlo created her own personal stories through painting. What made her unique was the surrealist "dreamlike" qualities that make the observer feel as though the characters [even her] were unreal, somehow like something you would see in a strange dream.
After conducting the art interpretation phase of the lesson, have students do the following:
1. Have students bring in a picture of themselves.
2.Provide construction paper in order to have the class create a picture frame for their picture/portrait.
3.Have students cut out a frame for the picture.
4. Have the students draw pictures around the frame that underscore what is happening in their lives. Tell them to be creative in their own way. They can also opt to use technology and cut out graphics if they are so inclined. The object is to excavate.....
5.Secure the frame to the portrait and complete the art
Check out on Amazon, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Their Lives and Ideas-24 activities By Carol Sabbeth--
Story Framing was taken from this source.
Write a memoir using this process to connect with one's life.
Showcasing and "A Gallery Walk"
After the students have concluded the art, have them share by showcasing the art around the room like a gallery showing. Then, have the students conduct a literacy strategy called, "A Gallery Walk" by visiting each portrait, taking a post-it and writing a positive commentary at each station and tagging it on the board (have what is known as a "graffiti" board placed at each station).
Each artist can communicate with each visitor and respond to the commentaries left on each board.
Some Material Suggestions for this Lesson
Other Suggested Materials
Music, a Feast, State Standards, Core Standards
Follow-up the lesson with a Mexican celebration. Play music and enjoy regional delicacies to extend the learning to more disciplines. You might want to generate some Spanish words and communicate in that language (use descriptors for the art in that language).
1. Learning across Discipline: ELA-critical thinking , comprehension when critiquing art, story framing and memoir work/Social Studies-history/era, culture, geography, important people of that era, foods in that region of the world, music, social and political contexts/ Art-art materials, art history, analyzing works of art from a particular culture/Career & Development-painters/Music-music from other cultures/Languages Other than English-Mexican/Spanish
2.4 C's from the CORE STANDARDS: Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Communication