Students will analyze the visual art principles and refine their use of expository writing.
Interpreting Abstract Art
Time Alloted60 - 90 Minutes
State Content Standards
ARTISTIC PERCEPTION: 1.1 Describe the environment and selected works of art, using the elements of art and the principles of design.
CREATIVE EXPRESSION: 2.3 Develop skill in using mixed media while guided by a selected principle of design.
AESTHETIC VALUING: 4.2 Analyze the form (how a work of art looks) and content (what a work of art communicates) of works of art.
English Language Arts
Reading Comprehension. 2.1 Understand and analyze the differences in structure and purpose between various categories of informational materials (e.g., textbooks, newspapers, instructional manuals, signs). 1.0 Writing Strategies. 1.1 Create an organizational structure that balances all aspects of the composition and uses effective transitions between sentences to unify important ideas.
1.2 Support all statements and claims with anecdotes, descriptions, facts and statistics, and specific examples.
2.0 Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics) 2.2 Write responses to literature:
a. Develop interpretations exhibiting careful reading, understanding, and insight.
b. Organize interpretations around several clear ideas, premises, or images from the literary work.
c. Justify interpretations through sustained use of examples and textual evidence.
1.0 Written and Oral English Language Convention. 1.6 Use correct capitalization.
1.7 Spell derivatives correctly by applying the spellings of bases and affixes.
Listening and Speaking 1.1 Ask probing questions to elicit information, including evidence to support the speaker's claims and conclusions. 1.2 Determine the speaker's attitude toward the subject. 1.3 Respond to persuasive messages with questions, challenges, or affirmations. 1.4 Organize information to achieve particular purposes and to appeal to the background and interests of the audience. 1.5 Arrange supporting details, reasons, descriptions, and examples effectively and persuasively in relation to the audience. 1.6 Use speaking techniques, including voice modulation, inflection, tempo, enunciation, and eye contact, for effective presentations. 2.0 Speaking Applications (Genres and their Characteristics). 2.4 Deliver persuasive presentations:
a. State a clear position or perspective in support of an argument or proposal.
b. Describe the points in support of the argument and employ well-articulated evidence.
- Focus artwork
- Write up of focus artwork
- White construction paper
- Variety of media: colored pencils, markers, oil pastels, watercolors, 3 dimensional objects, colored paper
- Glue sticks
1) Ask students to think of a picture they have seen recently, either an advertisement or a family photo, and have them turn to their neighbor and explain what was in the picture and why they remember it. Note: the teacher may choose to show a picture to the whole class for this step so that all the students are talking about the same picture.
2) Show the students the focus artwork Belly Button Window. Explain to the students that this is an artwork completed in 2006 and is done with mixed media. Ask the students what they think mixed media means from looking at the artwork. Explain to the students that mixed media is “a work of art for which more than one type of art material is used to create the finished piece.” Have the students pair up and try to explain what is important about the piece.
3) Explain to the students that this is an abstract piece: “Artwork in which the subject matter is stated in a brief, simplified manner. Little or no attempt is made to represent images realistically, and objects are often simplified or distorted.”
4) Focused Viewing Questions: Have the students answer the following questions about the artwork.
Line: What kinds of lines do you see? Thick, thin, curved?
How do the lines make you feel? Angry, relaxed, peaceful?
Which lines are repeated? Why do you think they are?
Which lines are strong? Which lines are weak?
Shape: What kinds of shapes to you see?
Do any of the shapes create a pattern?
Are any of the shapes geometric? Circles, triangles, squares, etc.
Color: What kinds of color do you see?
How does the color make you feel?
What would happen if the colors were switched? How would you feel?
5) Tell the students that because this is an abstract piece of work, the meaning may not be immediately clear. Have the students answer the following questions:
a. What was your first reaction to the artwork? Why?
b. What are you curious about?
c. How would you describe what the artist was trying to say?
d. What does the artwork mean to you?
e. Do you like or dislike this artwork? Explain why using the art vocabulary of line, shape, and color.
6) Ask the students to explain where they think the artist wants their eyes to go. Where is the emphasis in the artwork? Ask the students to tell you if the artwork is balanced. Have them explain why or why not (the artwork is balanced asymmetrically).
7) Hand out the write up for the focus artwork. Explain to the students that this is informational text and as such needs to be read differently then a narrative. Have the students speculate on where such text might be found and for what type of audience would it be written. Break the students into pairs and have them read the text, writing down one key piece of information per paragraph.
8) Hold a class discussion on the focus artwork including the new information in the write up. Have the students decide whether they like or dislike the artwork, but be sure and back up their opinion using the artwork and the information in the write up. Discuss with the class the artist’s intention and purpose for creating the artwork. What type of reaction did the artist intend for the viewer to have? What message was the artist trying to get across?
9) Break the students into groups of three and have each group decide upon a message or purpose for a mixed media artwork that the group will create. Have the students write down the intent and purpose and briefly describe how they will accomplish that with the mixed media using balance and emphasis.
10) Have the materials for the mixed media on a table in the front of the class. Have one person from each group come up and select the materials for the group. Encourage students to be willing to change their direction if as they begin working a new idea occurs to them. Allow time for all groups to finish their work.
11) Have each group present their artwork, sharing with the class their intent and purpose.
12) Explain to the class that they are a buyer for the local museum. The museum has asked their opinion on Belly Button Window, as the museum is thinking of buying the piece for their collection. They are to write a short paper critiquing the artwork for the museum. In the critique they should include the artist’s name and why the artist chose to create this work (allow students to use the focus write up for information). Each student must decide whether they would recommend that the museum buy this piece or not buy it, and use examples from the artwork to support their decision.
13) After the students have finished writing their critique, break the class into two groups those is favor and those against buying the artwork. Pair up the students from the two groups and have them defend their position. Ask if any students would like to debate in front of the class.
Assessment: Students will create a mixed media art piece demonstrating their understanding of balance and emphasis. Students will write a one page art critique of the artwork Belly Button Window, focusing on the art principles of balance and emphasis demonstrating their understanding of expository writing as it relates to art concepts.
TITLE AND DATE: BELLY BUTTON WINDOW, 2006
Artist: David Huffman
David Huffman paints layered images like layered ideas. His ideas rove a metaphoric terrain pocked by the legacy of slavery in America to contemporary stereotypes and lingering suppressed hate. The eclectic compositions from his most recent series, from which this painting comes, address stereotypes relating to African American professional athletes. Here space-suited astronauts act out a quizzical narrative, climbing ladders to dunk basketballs hung from barren trees. In this scene Huffman addresses the history of lynching in America, pondering respect for life, but also probes the emptiness of contemporary celebrity worship.
Huffman’s use of characters like these orbiting All-Stars springs from the artist’s childhood passion for action figures and anime. Their presence also carries a more personal meaning: “This is how I felt growing up in America as a person of color, like an unidentified flying object.” Floating unanchored in ambiguous space, Huffman’s stylized figures actively expel the artist’s own sense of strangeness and loneliness, for this painting ultimately represents a hopeful and mythical place. As the ugliness of the past churns, new possibilities are born in this healing cosmic cradle.