Thursday, February 7, 2013

Celebrating Black History Month in Art

There are many artists we like to celebrate and recognize in our classrooms, and I have a few favorites I like to revisit.  In this post, I would like to share the projects I have done with my students in the past to recognize artists during the month of February, Black History Month.  Since I was setting up a bulletin board recognizing certain artists, I wanted to show a few I use.  If you know of an artist that is inspiring in teh art world, PLEASE share in my comments.  I would personally like to hear of more African-American artists who have inspired you.

Faith Ringgold

I am excited to say that I have personally met Faith Ringgold on two seperate occasions.  In 2001, she was the guest speaker at my graduation ceremony at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  I had the joy of greeting her again while I was 6 months pregnant in New Orleans at the 2008 NAEA convention.  This is how much of a dork I am...I get to tell my daughter that my favorite artist patted my baby belly when I was pregnant with her.  Yes, I am a geek and love it.

I love to tell the students how Faith began as a teacher and became a famous artist by creating story quilts inspired by her community. 

Here are some project examples I have introduced in class to my students.  In 3rd Grade, we read Tar Beach and create our own bodies flying over places we wished we owned.  In 4th Grade, we make community quilts that are displays in the hallways.  Each piece of the quilt are painted self-portraits of the students.

Alma Woodsey Thomas

Alma Woodsey Thomas is another artist I like to share with my 4th grade students.  Since she paints abstractly, I like to have my students create their own abstract pieces similar to her style of work.  Here are two different variations of artwork created by students.

William H. Johnson

I share William H. Johnson's work with  my 1st grade students.  I show the painting "Going to Church" to the students (see above) and have them create a picture of themselves going to school.

Elizabeth Catlett

I like to share Elizabeth's work with my 6th grade students.  At teh 6th grade level, students are more understanding of creating artwork that shows a message, whether it's political or positive.  I then have students create prints of their own images, similar to Elizabeth's work.

Here are a few other artists that I share with students, but have yet to make artworks inspired by them (which I plan on doing in the near future).

Preston Jackson was my sculpture teacher at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  In 2000, Preston created a bronze figurine series titled "From Bronzeville to Harlem" that travelled across the U.S.  His bronze artworks are displayed across Illinois, and you can still visit him in the college studios at SAIC.

Jean-Michal Basquiat was an American artist. He began as a graffiti artist in New York City in the late 1970s and evolved into an acclaimed Neo-expressionist and Primitivist painter by the 1980s.

Jacob Lawrence was an American painter. Lawrence referred to his style as "dynamic cubism".  His subject matter focused on the shapes and colors of Harlem.

Kerry Marshall is known for large-scale paintings, sculptures, and other objects that take African-American life and history as their subject matter. His work often deals with the effects of the Civil Rights movement and popular culture.

Here's a picture of my bulletin board I created for the month!  How are you celebrating Black History Month?  What artists have you introduced to your students?  Please share!!!!

1 comment:

  1. I teach in a semi-rural community in Texas. So I was a bit apprehensive introducing Black History Month to my 800 students. I started with a time line, when they were born and worked backwards from there, through my birthday, Civil Rights Movement, MLK death, and birth, and on to the Harlem Renaissance. We then talked about artists and musicians from the era, and focusing on Jazz music ultimately. Then we talked in depth about Elizabeth Catlett. The kids then did a printmaking project based on instruments from Jazz music. K-1 monotypes, 2,3,5 did collographs and 4 relief prints. They turned out wonderful but it took a lot of cardboard hording and ink!