The Pumpkins are learning about Romare Bearden, a collage artist that worked during the Harlem Renaissance. Bearden made collage artwork about his neighborhood and the people he encountered in his everyday life. Inspired by Bearden’s work, the Pumpkins experimented with different collage techniques. They used the iPads to take photographs of each other, which were used in mixed media portraiture artworks with paint and decorative papers. The Pumpkins are learning about the many different ways that they can cut, tear, fold, compose and manipulate paper and photographs.
The Watermelons have been exploring how we use our senses when we look at and make art. We began this unit by talking about sight: The Watermelons learned about self-portraits and used mirrors to draw what they looked like. We also talked about using our eyes by looking at The False Mirror by René Magritte and then made our very own eye drawings of what we see every day. Next, we talked about listening, and we thought about what different paintings would sound like if they could make noise. Together we listened to Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh on MoMA's Destination: Modern Art website. Then, we talked about movement and how we move our bodies in different ways. The Watermelons got the chance to dance and break out their moves to different types of music. After dancing, students got to paint to the beat of different types of music - they thought about how the genre of music, the tempo, the instruments, rhythm and sounds changed the way they moved their paintbrush across their large paper.
As part of this year's architecture and design curriculum, we took a trip to three new stations on the Second Avenue subway line to learn about public art installations and station design. Click here to learn more about the artwork and artists in the different stations. In class, we've been thinking a lot about how art in public spaces can influence the way we feel and interact with our surroundings. We rode the train from 96th, to 86th and to 72nd. The students worked together to answer some questions, make thoughtful observations and take photographs with the iPads. We collaborated in small groups, and together we took a careful look at the different artworks by Sarah Sze, Chuck Close and Vik Muniz. Unlike a museum or gallery experience, we were allowed to touch the artwork. Students got to look up close and far away. We explored each station, observing the different types of mosaics and tiles that the different artists used. The Otters and Clouds shared their observations about the similarities and differences between each station's artwork. They discussed what the imagery looked like, who the people reminded them of and how they thought the artist made the work. Some students even made up narratives for the figures that they saw in the artwork! Everyone really enjoyed being able to interact with the mosaic characters in the 72nd street station by acting out the facial expressions, poses and actions of the different figures. Here are some photos that captured some of the fun memories from our trip. Next up...the students will soon start planning their own tile design and work with mosaics and grout.
Next destination is France! Today the Battleships learned about Alexander Calder, an artist who worked in both France and New York. Calder is known for his sculptures and mobiles, but today we discussed his line drawings and wire sculptures. Together we looked at images of line drawings from Calder's sketchbook. We traced the lines of his drawings in the air with our fingers, and noticed that lines can be bumpy, zig zaggy, wiggly, straight, curved, thick, thin, fast, slow, jagged and smooth. Our lines can change when we use a lot of ink or a little ink. We also learned that lines look different depending on how we move our arms, wrists and bodies. Each student got two large sheets of newsprint, an ebony pencil, two brushes and a dish of India ink, which they used to explore how many different types of lines they could create. They tried all different techniques and came up with some really nice ink drawings!
For the past few weeks the Astronauts and the Legos have been creating self-portraits. First, we looked at portraits that other artists have made, like Frida Kahlo, Kerry James Marshall, Dana Schutz, Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. We talked about how artists paint portraits in all different styles, and interpret facial features in many ways. Together we read The Colors of Us, which illustrated the story of an artist and her daughter discovering the many different shades of brown and peach by looking at the skin tones of friends and family. Students practiced mixing their own skin tones from the primary colors, black and white. We also discussed a very special kind of surface that artists paint on, called a canvas. Then students got their very own canvas to paint on! Over the course of a few classes students used mirrors to look at the shapes of their heads, eyes, nose, mouths, ears and hair. They mixed unique colors to represent themselves. They even used their imaginations to create a background that illustrated the scenery in which they wanted to be portrayed in!
Artist Portraits Above: