Students will research a historical event that has some significance to them and explain why they chose to represent that particular event. Students will approach their project as a visual narrative and will examine the work of Kara Walker as a resource. Students will understand the importance of history and the relationship that it shares with art. Students will understand why some artists choose to use history as a subject matter. Students will make a personal connection to their historical event and artwork by incorporating their own likeness within their art. Students will demonstrate growth in using art tools and improve craftsmanship. Students will use their sketchbooks and brainstorming to develop their ideas. [Click on all the images on this page for full size]
White Drawing Paper: 1 per student, 12x18 (30.5 x 46 cm) or next size up (to glue cutouts on)
The lesson will begin by using Visual Thinking Strategies to discuss a piece of art by contemporary artist Kara Walker. After, the discussion is complete, the students will take 5-10 minutes to answer the following questions in their sketchbooks about another example of Walker's work, (the teacher will be connecting the video equipment as the students answer the questions. Remind the students to date the sketchbook page and to label it VTS questions.
What do you think this particular piece of art is about? Explain why you think that.
Does the image provoke any specific feelings within you? Please explain what those feelings are and why?
Next, show the video and then ask the students what their general thoughts are about Walker's work. Spend only a couple minutes listening to opinions. Use the handout for reviewing the video.
Now, have the students return to their sketchbooks and answer the following questions:
Have your feelings changed towards Walker's work? Explain your answer.
How did her explanations of her artwork help you to gain a deeper understanding of her work?
If you had to describe her artwork in three words, what would you say and why?
Use examples from what we've looked at and watched. Please don't worry about titles, try your best to explain the image or idea you are thinking of.
Start the class with a recap of what we did the previous day. Next, show the students a PowerPoint that includes more of Walker's work. If the students have not made the connection form the previous day, point out to them or help them come to the realization that Walker's work is about history and historical events. Explain how Walker is not the first artist to draw attention to history and its impact on society. Show student's other examples of artwork that is connected to a historical event.
After all of the images are done, ask them why this artist might choose history as their subject matter?
Next, continue on to their actual assignment. Show a slide from the presentation that has the details of the assignment listed on it, also put up a handout on the board so that they can use it for future questions.
For the assignment, they must research a historical event that has some importance to them (and be able to explain why) and depict that event as a narrative while also including their own silhouette in the piece. Explain to the students that their own silhouettes will be taken with a camera, printed out on plain paper and then cut-out to use as a reference tool (but this will be done after they have decided on a composition#.
End the class with the students using their sketchbooks to write a list of historical events. They should date the page and write "Historical Events" on the top.
The class will begin by the teacher demonstrating how to brainstorm ideas for a historical event. The teacher will give an example of a historical event and then show how she brainstormed in her sketchbook of possible ways to represent that event. She will also write down ideas on how she could incorporate herself in the composition. The next step is to work on at least 2-3 different sketches.
Once, the teacher has finished demonstrating, the students will open their sketchbooks to look at what they brainstormed for a possible historical event. Next, they will either get library time to look up more historical events and facts, or there will be reference books provided in class #laptops are also a possibility#.
The students will have more time to complete their sketches and to look up their historical event.
Once all of the students have their sketches done and have an idea of a composition, they will have their picture taken in the pose that they will use as their silhouette.
The students will begin working on their artwork. They will use colored paper to create their silhouetted images and small scissors to cut them out.
The students will have this time to complete their projects.
The students will have a few minutes at the beginning of class to add any finishing touches on their pieces. They will then write a reflection in their sketchbooks stating #teacher will write this on board)
Why they choose to represent this particular historical event. Why is it important to them?
Explain where they placed their own silhouette and why.
Next, the students will meet up in small groups of 3-4 to critique their work. Each group will have a set of questions to answer. The teacher will come around to each group and informally assess their progress and participation. Each group member will spend 5-7 minutes on each piece of art.
Says Elise: "I taught this lesson when I was an intern teacher and one of the pieces from the class was recently chosen for the Michigan Art Education Association show... This lesson was inspired by [Kara Walker] and I'd love to see more Contemporary artists lessons out there."
Sketchbooks (answers to questions and sketches)
VTS question/KW Handout
Content Standard #1: All students will apply skills and knowledge to perform in the arts.
A. Select materials, techniques, media technology, and processes to achieve desired effects.
B. Use art materials and tools safely and responsibly to communicate experiences and ideas.
C. Select and use the visual characteristics and organizational principles of art to communicate ideas.
Content Standard # 2: All students will apply skills and knowledge to create in the arts.
A. Select materials, techniques, and processes to effectively communicate ideas.
B. Employ organizational principles and analyze what makes them effective or not in the
communication of ideas.
C. Integrate visual, spatial, and temporal concepts with content to communicate intended meaning in artworks.
D. Use subjects, themes, and symbols that communicate intended meaning in artworks.
E. Integrate organization structures and characteristics to create art for different purposes.
ANALYZING IN CONTEXT
Content Standard #3: All students will analyze, describe and evaluate works of art.
A. Form and defend judgments about characteristics and structures to accomplish commercial,
personal, communal, or other purposes of art.
B. Observe and compare works of art that were created for different purposes.
C. Describe how materials, techniques, technology, and processes cause responses.
D. Describe and compare the characteristics of personal artwork to the artwork of others.
E. Describe how personal experiences influence the development of specific artworks.
ARTS IN CONTEXT
Content Standard #4: All students will understand, analyze, and describe the arts in their historical, social and cultural contexts.
A. Know and compare the characteristics of artworks in various eras and cultures.
B. Describe and place a variety of art objects in historical and cultural contexts.
C. Analyze, describe, and demonstrate how factors of time and place (such as climate, resources,
ideas, and technology) influence visual characteristics that give meaning and value to a work of
CONNECTING TO OTHER ARTS, OTHER DISCIPLINES, AND LIFE
Content Standard #5: All students will recognize, analyze, and describe connections among the arts, between the arts and other disciplines; between the arts and everyday life.
A. Analyze personal, family, and community connections that involve work by visual artists.
C. Compare the characteristics of works in two or more art forms that share similar subject matter, historical periods, or cultural context.
D. Describe ways in which the principles and subject matter of other disciplines taught in the school are interrelated with the visual arts.
Kara Walker: After the Deluge - Known for her bold images using the traditional silhouette, Walker upends the genteel, Victorian origins of the medium by graphically portraying scenes from the antebellum South to explore the politics of slavery, race, and gender.
Kara Walker: Narratives of a Negress - This collection of Walker's astonishing tableaux dramatizes black-white interactions via horrifically accurate imaginings of one-on-one encounters-encounters that, in their microcosms of exploitation and mutual dependency, seem to speak directly to current forms of black-white relations.
Kara Walker: Bureau of Refugees - Walker applies that jocularity to her depictions of violence against African-Americans, lending them a hollow, almost slapstick character that is very much at odds with their original function.