SchoolArts Magazine

December 2015

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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20 DECEMBER 2015 SchoolArts SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 21 E L E M E N T A R Y I have long held a fascination with maps for their capacity to help me imagine places I dream of visiting, and to remember the places I have already explored. It wasn't until a few years ago that I thought about their connection to meaningful art-making for my students. Memory Melinda Turnbull MAPPING My eyes were opened to the artistic possibilities of maps during a master's course at the University of Florida. Our textbook, The Map as Art, by Katharine Harmon, revealed how art- ists today take traditional mapping elements and transform them into visual design and social commentary. Maps, like art, are visual forms of communication based on the creator's point of view. I wanted to find a way to incor- porate contemporary mapping ideas into my curriculum. Our school is a special place where students share experiences and build memories. Many fifth-grade students attend our school for six years, and after mov- ing on, return to reminisce about their elementary years. And so, my idea of mapping their memories was born. A Sense of Place The first step was to give my fifth- grade students a sense of place by orienting them to our location in the community. We looked at our school Annica Chervenka, grade five. places with their past experiences. As we walked, I overheard students remembering events together. When we return to the artroom, we dis- cussed how maps use a combination of words and symbols to convey informa- tion about a place. Students finished by inventing symbols for their memo- ries and adding walking routes and a key to their maps. What is a Map? Our next class focused on the follow- ing questions: • What is a map? • What can you map? building on Google Earth, finding homes and parks in relation to the building, and noting how our school has changed over the years using the application's historical imagery icon. Taking a Memory Walk In their sketchbooks, students drew the shape of our school, the layout of the rooms, and the surrounding area. I explained that we were going to take a memory walk around the building, both inside and out. With sketchbooks and pencils in hand, students labeled Maps, like art, are visual forms of communication based on the creator's point of view. • How is map-making like art-mak- ing? We read My Map Book by Sara Fanelli, which helped students to reflect on these questions and visu- alize different places, events, and objects that can be mapped. Mapping Memories I asked students to think about how they were going to map their memo- ries of elementary school. I assumed most would think concretely, making a traditional map of the building. I couldn't have been more wrong. Some students started with the building's shape, others expressed the desire to map their feelings about school, while others focused on one specific location or event. The best part was listening to students share their ideas with one another during this process. Making Maps Students' maps would be tempera paintings on 12 x 18" (30 x 46 cm) tag board. They began by outlining their ideas in a lightly tinted color. This helped them to visualize their space on the paper, and kept them from getting carried away with too much CONTINUED ON PAGE 45. Heidi Wheeler, grade five. Journey Zumalt Lily Dosedel, grade five. CONTINUED FROM PAGE 21. contemporary artists who incorporate mapping into their artwork. We examined works by Jasper Johns, Kim Jones, Ingo Gunther, Heidi Whitman, Ai Weiwei, and Vik Muniz to further explore the nature of maps. After this introduction, I mod - eled a variety of painting techniques, including color mixing, layering, drawing into wet paint with the back of a brush, and using crayon, pencil, and paint mark - ers over dry paint. Students painted for two class periods, laying down large color areas, then adding details after the paint had dried. Applying Technology Our final classes focused on sharing the paintings. I checked out a set of iPads and had students work in small groups using a digital storytelling app to photo- graph, title, describe, and talk about their work. We took an "art walk" around the tables, observing both the original paint- ings and the iPad presentations. I was surprised by the strong emo- tional impact this project had on my students. They delighted in remembering their experiences, some laughing at each other's stories, others crying. Even stu- dents who had been at the school for less than a year were engaged; after all, they too had experiences to remember. Melinda Turnbull teaches elementary art for the Waukee Community School District in Waukee, Iowa. Turnbull04 @ msn.com N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Connecting: Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context. W E B L I N K www.facebook.com/mapasart

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