SchoolArts Magazine

November 2017

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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Page 45 of 54

34 NOVEMBER 2017 SchoolArts find another venue to display it. The decision to go forward with the proj - ect was unanimous. The result was a sculpture com- prising seven life-sized papier-mâché figures: three in gray representing the bystanders, three smaller ones in blue representing the supporters, and in the center, a seven-foot high figure of Adama dressed in black and wearing a headscarf of pure white, signifying her innocence. In addition to the twelve students in the class, more than two dozen students and numerous teachers and staff members came on their own time to help complete the piece. The sculpture was displayed for two weeks in a gallery at Teach - ers College, Columbia University. Shortly before the show opened and six weeks after her arrest, Adama was released without charge. She and her family attended the opening along with dozens of members of the school community. When Adama saw the completed sculpture, she said, "I just cried. I couldn't believe they did that for me." Perceiving Injustice The passion for this project came from students who perceived injus - tice in their community. The final piece was more profound than any - thing that we as teachers could have preplanned. In an environment where they felt safe to find and use their voices, students were able to process, create, and take action through art. In the words of one student in the class: "It was important to us to make this artwork because we needed to put our point across. As teenagers, we want people to listen to Advertiser Index Advertiser Page AMACO 48, CIII Bailey 15 Blick Art Materials CIV Davis Publications 7, 16, CII Kiss-Off 41 L&L Kilns 2 NAEA 13 Nasco 4 Skutt 1 The SHOP Nasco 45 Royalwood 45 Skutt 45 Youth Art Month 45 THE ORIGINAL K iSS-OFF ® Stain Remover Before you throw it away... try Kiss-Off! "I had gotten blue oil paint on one of my fall coats... I felt like I should give Kiss-Off ® a try and lo and behold no more dried on oil paint! My jacket was saved." ~Malissa Removes: Ink · Oil Paint · Grease · Makeup · Blood · Lipstick · Coffee · Red Wine · Grass Stains & More Ideal for Classroom, Travel & Art Studio MADE IN THE USA P O I N T O F V I E W CONTINUED ON PAGE XX. A dama Bah was awakened in the night when officers from the FBI, Immigration, and NYPD entered her home and began searching her family's apartment. It was March of 2005 and Adama was sixteen. She assumed they had come for her father on an immigra- tion violation. It wasn't until officers told her to put on her shoes that she realized they had come for her. Adama was a student at my small public high school. Rumors about her "arrest" quickly circulated the school. In fact, Adama and another teenage girl from her mosque had been detained and were being held without explanation as potential suicide bomb- ers; a notion that was incomprehen- sible to those of us who knew her. A Project in Progress My Art II class was in the midst of planning a culminating project to create a site-specific public art piece. Students had secured an agreement with a midtown law firm to exhibit their work in its public atrium. Now the class would have to agree on the content of the piece and work collab- oratively on its design and creation. My student-teacher, Chelsea Green, and I introduced students to the con- cept of using art for social commentary as they considered potential themes. Artists are often inspired by events or feelings that strongly affect them. Visual art offers a vehicle through which artists can express their con- cerns and increase society's awareness of issues that need attention. Justice and Injustice A few of the ideas suggested by stu- dents were: the war in Iraq, racism, gun violence, equality for women, substance abuse, and economic dispar- ity. Knowing that the piece would be displayed at a law firm helped students hone in on a theme of Justice/Injustice. We asked students to reflect on their own experiences with justice or injus- tice. This ten-minute writing activity had a tremendous impact on the direc- tion of the project. Some students wrote about personal experiences such as racial profiling by the police and store employees, while others described the experiences of friends or family mem- bers. Two students wrote about Adama. Considering Our Community Galvanized by Adama's situation, students enthusiastically decided to work on a piece from the perspec- tive of what was happening in our school community as a result of her detention. Some people supported her privately but were afraid to say so publically; others spoke out in support of her in the press and were actively advocating for her. Students wanted to make a piece that would hold a mirror up to the community and ask viewers to reflect on where they stood—were they supporters or bystanders? A Sculpture for Adama When representatives from the ini- tial site balked at the subject matter, students had to decide whether to change the content of the piece or Injustice in Our Midst Kim Lane In an environment where the elt safe to find and use their voices, students were able to process, create, and take action through art. 12 OCTOBER 2017 SchoolArts CONTINUED FROM PAGE 12. CONTINUED FROM PAGE 35. SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 35 H I G H S C H O O L A common problem in many high-school art classes is motivation. How do we get students invested in creat - ing original, passionate works? One effective approach is issue-based art education. It's the perfect way to con- nect contemporary art trends, such as Shepard Fairey's work, with current events while helping students make connections to their world. Issue- based art instruction promotes higher- level thinking through problem solv - ing and advocates for social change. Leading a substantial conversation on issues is a way to hook students while creating meaningful artwork. Unit Goals I have several goals for my Issues in Art unit. First, and most impor- tantly, students must create original works of art with strong messages. Their works should invoke an emotional response such as anger, sadness, or frustration. The issue can be local or as big and broad as international issues. Second, stu - dents must design their own unique symbols which will be turned into stencils. Finally, students' works must show a strong focal point, high contrast, and multiple layers. Issues and Images The first step is choosing an issue. We began with brainstorming events occurring around students that cre- ated an emotional response. Topics ranged from bullying at school to global issues such as violence towards women in India. We used newspapers and smart phones to peruse news sites. Once students chose an issue, they moved on to the next step: designing and cutting a stencil that expresses their opinion on that issue. Reducing an entire opinion to a simple high-contrast image was chal- lenging. Students looked at artwork by street artists Banksy, Shepard Fairey, and Ron English for guidance. After sketching in pencil, students used markers to make their images bold and reduce thin lines to a minimum since the images were to be cut out. Stencils and Collaging When students were finished with their designs, I gave them each a transparency. Students used box cutters to cut away all areas of the design that were to be colored. Once students begin cutting away the plastic, there is some difficulty picturing the finished stencil and seeing how it will read once painted. I encouraged students to make test images as they cut. They pinned the stencils to large pieces of cardboard, stepped outside, and sprayed. Students then made a newspaper ground. They collaged a background for their works using newspapers and glue over cardboard. Some chose to use only text, while others used headlines and images. A thin layer of gesso was painted over to mute the newspaper. Once the background was done, students sprayed the sten - cil on top of their collaged ground. Experiment and Elaborate Once the hard work of cutting the sten- cil was done, students enjoyed playing around with the image, mixing and matching colors, creating a double or inverted image, and even collaborating with other students. I asked them to turn in their best experimental work. We finished the unit with a critique by inviting another art class in for a dialogue about the finished pieces. The visiting class was composed of AP Art students and the critique was very beneficial to all involved. Con - versation seemed easier than during Trish Klenow other critiques, with many students speaking. It was clear that students were motivated by their issues. Addressing Concerns Controversial issues can and should be addressed in the artroom. Many of the great masterworks in art his- tory address issues of religion, sex, politics, and violence. It would be impossible to avoid these topics altogether. By dealing with con - troversial issues head-on, teachers can help students deal with and perhaps even solve problems. That being said, one must tread lightly when discussing certain subjects. Some guidelines to follow in addressing controversial topics include: getting support from admin - istrators and parents; making connec- tions to art history, such as using the B ealing with controversial issues head-on, teachers can help students deal with and perhaps even solve problems. CONTINUED ON PAGE 41. ISSUES Left: Gengyi Li, grade ten. Right: Marquise Hunter, grade twelve. EXPLORING Bayeux Tapestry to teach about vio- lence and control of media; and keep- ing discussions open-ended and not forcing a particular view on students. Authentic issue-based art helps students achieve greater meaning in their artwork. To better understand the human experience and condition, one must look into the context in which the art was created. Great art lessons go beyond the classroom— they address the bigger picture. Trish Klenow is an art teacher at Enloe Magnet High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. trish@ 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 exter- nal context. W E B L I N K us, and we want to speak out about this case and express how it affected us at [our school]. The way students and teachers acted shows how people in the community really act when something like this happens. Some people can be really afraid and other people want to do something. We wanted to do something." Kimberly Lane is a lower school visual art teacher at the Blake School in Hop - kins, Minnesota. This project took place at the Heritage School in New York. lane @ 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 exter- nal context. SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 41

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