Friday, February 9, 2018

Family Traditions Mixed Media Collage, Inspired by Carmen Lomas Garza

Recently 1st grade artists finished their mixed media collage artworks that tell the story of a family memory or tradition. This project took us a few weeks! We began by looking at two paintings by the Mexican American artist, Carmen Lomas Garza. Students were asked to look at the artwork carefully and then think about what is happening and what supports their thinking. 
Carmen Lomas Garza, Barbacoa Para CumpleaƱos (1993) 
Students noticed that there is a girl hitting a piƱata, a cake on a table, and many people of different ages gathered together, so it might be a birthday party, a backyard BBQ or a family reunion. Our observations helped us to "read" the painting and understand the story visually, without words. We noticed that the artist paints the story, using a lot of details to help us understand what is happening. Carmen Lomas Garza is a Mexican American artist who was born in Texas. She paints about her experiences as a Mexican American and her paintings feature her family. Students thought about a time they have spent with their family and family traditions they have experienced. They tried to remember who was there, where it took place, and what people were doing. 
Then they made their own sketches and drawings of this memory. For many students, it was a family tradition or annual event such as Christmas, Hanukkah, or Thanksgiving. For others, they remembered their birthday or a sibling's birthday. Some students drew about a family summer vacation to the beach or a long roadtrip, while others drew about playing in the park, weekend picnics, and building snowmen. 
The following week, students used their sketches and created a painted background for their artwork. Removing the details, students painted paper with solid colors for their background, whether it was yellow sand, blue sky or white snow. 
We let the painted paper dry and the next class, students began adding the people and details in their foreground using a variety of different materials. Students cut and tore shapes from colored paper, tissue paper, fabric, felt, and yarn and put them together to created a mixed media collage of their family memory. Students thought carefully about how the colors, patterns and textures of the materials would help tell their visual story. 
They tried to make the setting clear, whether it was indoors or outdoors, daytime or nighttime. Students worked very hard on these mixed media collages, and wrote a sentence on the back about their work, describing the memory or tradition. We participated in our first gallery walk, which is when we walk around the room to observe everyone's artwork. During a gallery walk we make sure not to touch the artwork, just like at a museum. We also did our first turn and talk, where we picked a partner and shared our artwork with them. 
Students took turns talking about their work and asking questions, considering what their work was about, what they were proudest of in their work, and what was the most challenging part of creating it. At the end of class, we shared them with class on the rug so that everyone could take a look at the finished work, and we could learn more about each student's story. Below are some examples of our work, with a description written by the student.
Amit, 1st Grade (Massa)
"At my grandma's house with my sister."
Asher, 1st Grade (McIsaac)
"My family watching the solar eclipse in Nashville."
Audrey W., 1st Grade (Salvucci)
"Me and my mom on Christmas Day."
Ava, 1st Grade (Massa)
"My family at the beach."
Avneet, 1st Grade (McIsaac)
"My brother and I at the playground."
Dakotah, 1st Grade (McIsaac)
"Me and my brother on Christmas."
Dylan, 1st Grade (Landay)
"My family decorating our Christmas tree and eating turkey."
Kaylin, 1st Grade (McCarthy)
"My family at the playground."
Layla, 1st Grade (McCarthy)
"At the beach with my mom."
Max, 1st Grade (Salvucci)
"At the beach with my family."
Maya E., 1st Grade (McCarthy)
"On a road trip to New Hampshire with my family."
Najeeb, 1st Grade (McIsaac)
"At the park with my brother."
Rishi, 1st Grade (Landay)
"Building a snowman with my brother."
Sarah, 1st Grade (Mandile)
"My family at a restaurant for my dad's birthday."
Soren, 1st Grade (Mandile)
"At the park with my sister."
Will, 1st Grade (Mandile)
"Building a snowman with my sister."
Zion, 1st Grade (Salvucci)
"At the beach with my family."

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Arts Around the World: Venda Pots and Cave Drawings from South Africa

The next country we learned about this year, as part of our Arts Around the World curriculum, is South Africa. 
We began by learning that the country is located in the southern part of Africa and that many different peoples make up South Africa, each with their own language and history. The country has 11 official languages. This colorful mix of cultures gives South Africa its nickname "rainbow nation.” 
For our first project, we looked at examples of pottery made by the Venda tribe. We noticed that the clay is a reddish color and there were many different shapes and sizes of pottery. We discussed how different size pots were for different purposes, such as carrying water or storing food. Students also noticed that the designs on the pottery were mainly red and silver in color and involved geometric shapes and repeating lines and patterns. 
For our pinch pots, students got terra cotta clay which is a similar color to the red clay we saw in the Venda pottery examples. Students formed a ball with the clay and pushed their thumbs in the middle of the clay ball. Then they pinched around in a circle to create a pot or bowl shape, creating the walls of the pot and flattening and smoothing the inside. After shaping their pinch pot, students used tools to draw lines and shapes into their pinch pot. We let them dry for a week and then they were fired in the kiln. 
After being fired once, students got to glaze their pinch pots. Even though the Venda primarily use red oxide and graphite (which created the silver color) to decorate their pots, students selected from several different colors to glaze their pottery. After glazing, the pinch pots were fired again and students shared their finished pottery with each other through a gallery walk. Below are some examples of our pinch pots, inspired by Venda pottery from South Africa: 
Calvin, 2nd Grade (Pearse)
Lily, 2nd Grade (O'Connor)
Mahnoor, 2nd Grade (Pearse)
Marie, 2nd Grade (O'Connor)
Niko, 2nd Grade (O'Connor)
Sean, 2nd Grade (O'Connor)
Theo, 2nd Grade (Pearse)
Adriana, 2nd Grade (Hinds)
Antonio, 2nd Grade (Stone)
Caitlin, 2nd Grade (Hinds)
Duncan, 2nd Grade (Stone)
Gabe, 2nd Grade (Hinds)
Jayden, 2nd Grade (Hinds)
Olivia, 2nd Grade (Stone)
Tigran, 2nd Grade (Stone)
We also learned about rock paintings made by the San Bushmen, Africa's oldest hunter gatherers. The San Bushmen lived in the Drakensberg mountains of South Africa about 4,000 years ago. During that time they created art on the walls of caves and rock shelters. We noticed that the art features animals and people, although the people are not represented with a lot of detail. Some students connected this to Egyptian hieroglyphics they had learned about in Social Studies and the idea of symbols. 
The people are often shown running or hunting, since this was a big part of their lives. We noticed that they used very natural colors, like brown, red and black, since they probably had to use natural materials to make these artworks. We also found it fascinating that 4,000 years ago, people were making art! We made our own interpretation by crumpling a piece of brown paper to give it a rock-like texture and using charcoal and chalk pastel to create our drawings. We experimented with blending and smudging the materials.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

David Hockney Inspired Countryside Landscapes

After our Romare Bearden inspired mixed media collage cityscapes, 4th grade artists looked at and discussed the colorful countryside landscapes of British artist, David Hockney. We looked at a few examples of his landscape paintings, including the one below. 
David Hockney, North Yorkshire (1997) 
Students noticed that in comparison to the urban cityscape, Hockney's country landscapes had a lot more fields, hills, trees and details like bales of hay. Students also noticed that Hockney used some very bright colors that are not necessarily natural to a landscape. In the painting above, many students thought the purple lines represented a river, while others thought it was a road. Students also noticed that Hockney included different lines, patterns and textures to add interest to the landscape. Even areas that are all green contain different marks to show the texture of the grass. 
Students spent one class exploring color mixing, mixing different colors by combining two colors together, then three colors together, and even four. We noticed that when you mixed four colors together, they often got a little muddy. Students thought about colors they might want to use in their landscape painting. 
The following class, students sketched out their own countryside landscape, focusing on using lines to create different areas for color. They painted in the different areas of their landscape, mixing their own colors and including at least one tint, or a color mixed with white. Students referred to their color mixing experiments to help mix new colors. 
After this layer of paint dried, during the following class we added patterns on top of the different areas, such as stripes, polka dots, and various lines and shapes. We talked about complementary colors and how you might use these colors for the patterns to help provide contrast with the background color. 
Using smaller brushes, students also added details such as trees, houses, animals, cars, clouds, etc. We talked about how using the smaller brushes can really help with painting small details and sometimes it is about choosing the right tools for the job to make it easier. Students used many different colors and patterns and included details such as animals, barns, trees and fences. Below are examples of our colorful David Hockney inspired landscape paintings.
Artem, 4th Grade (Mattson)
Ethan, 4th Grade (Mattson)
Evey, 4th Grade (Doherty)
Tatiana, 4th Grade (Mattson)
Zarisha, 4th Grade (Doherty)
Desmond, 4th Grade (Graves)
Destanie, 4th Grade (Cikacz)
Gavin, 4th Grade (Graves)
Gustavo, 4th Grade (Doherty)
Jackie, 4th Grade (Cikacz)
Jayden, 4th Grade (Graves)
Maya, 4th Grade (Graves)
Meba, 4th Grade (Mattson)
Pavlos, 4th Grade (Graves)
Sofia, 4th Grade (Mattson)
Vardges, 4th Grade (Doherty)