Monday, February 6, 2017

Family Traditions Collage

Last month, 1st grade artists created mixed media collage artworks that tell the story of a family memory or tradition. 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, Empanadas (1991)
Students noticed that there is a family gathered together in a kitchen, making food together. Perhaps it is for a holiday, birthday, or family gathering. Many students connected this to an experience they have had making food with their families, especially in preparation for a holiday or family dinner. We looked at another work by Lomas Garza and students noticed that there was a girl hitting a pinata, a cake on a table, and many people of different ages gathered together, so it might be a birthday party. Our observations helped us to "read" the painting and understand the story visually, without words.
Carmen Lomas Garza, Barbacoa para Cumpleaños (1993)
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.  
Ava, 1st Grade (Landay)
"Building a snowman with my family."
Adriana, 1st Grade (Landay)
"Celebrating Christmas with my family."
Anthony, 1st Grade (Massa)
"Christmas Eve with my family."
Emma, 1st Grade (Landay)
"At the park."
James, 1st Grade (Massa)
"Christmas Day - me and my family."
Megan, 1st Grade (Massa)
"At the playground with my family."
Tigran, 1st Grade (Landay)
"At the beach with my family"
Noa, 1st Grade (Torchio)
"Me and my family in our backyard."
Mary, 1st Grade (Torchio)
"At my aunt's pool with my family."
David, 1st Grade (Mandile)
"At a picnic in the forest with my family."
Graham, 1st Grade (Massa)
"At Cape Cod with my family, grandma and Papa G. I caught 21 hermit crabs in a day!"
Tyler, 1st Grade (Massa)
"Christmas Day with my family."
Ruken, 1st Grade (Salvucci)
"Trick or treating with my family and we saw the scariest house!"
Bianca, 1st Grade (Salvucci)
"At the beach in Maine with my family."
Faye, 1st Grade (Salvucci)
"At the beach with my family."
Tia, 1st Grade (Mandile)
"Celebrating Eid with my family."
Jayden, 1st Grade (Mandile)
"My family came to school."
Corinne, 1st Grade (Mandile)
"Every summer I go to the beach in California with my family."

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