Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It's Club Season!

Now that the winter session is upon us, it is time for the winter club season here at our school! Over the next few weeks, I will be posting about some activities from my two clubs, the Middle School Art Club and the Middle and Upper School Comics and Gaming Club.

These projects can be easily adapted for students in regular art classes, as well as for teachers using comics and graphic novels in literature and content area courses. This is my first time running these particular clubs so I am excited to get started!

Keep on the lookout for the following upcoming activities:

Rope Bowls
Silhouette Paintings with Masking Technique
Stamped Clay Plates
Basic Jewelry Making
Creating Comics with Pixton Software
Making Superheroes with Marvel Site
Fantasy Board and Card Gaming

Monday, December 1, 2014

Washington Crosses the Delaware

Throughout my course, I find that I always want to teach a common tension throughout the entire field of historical scholarship -- understanding and familiarity with the accepted iconography and narrative, while also teaching an undertone of critical questioning into that narrative. I have found one example of that tension to be in Emanuel Leutze's iconic painting, Washington Crosses the Delaware. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Paul Revere's Ride is another great example.)

For this lesson, I wanted to teach the event and familiarize students with the famous image of a stoic Washington braving the ice and snow in a surprise attack on Trenton while also discussing some of the context of the painting itself. For the first objective, we would reenact the painting. We spent some time creating some simple props for the scene, such as oars made from dollar store brooms, a boat made of posterboard propped up by crates, and assembling some costumes with everything from three-cornered hats to scarves and bedsheets.

The goal of this re-enactment was two-fold. Firstly, I wanted students to be familiar with the iconic image of Washington Crossing the Delaware. After completing this re-enactment, students found several examples of parodies and other images that used the recognizable icon including everything from the video game Assassin's Creed to My Little Pony.

Secondly, I wanted students to analyze how these images become part of the American memory and how they reflect popular themes in American memory and mythos. In a wrap-up written assignment after the simulation, we read into further detail about some inaccuracies in the painting and to what extent these were the artist's intentional creative license.

Finally, each student got a color printout of the picture from their class as a keepsake -- and they really loved this part! I have included one of the photos below with the students' faces blurred. Try this one out! It's a great one and makes for fantastic yearbook pictures!