Friday, March 13, 2015

Observational Drawing: Contour Flowers

Second graders were shown a demonstration of contour drawing: a style of drawing which focuses exclusively on the contour outline of any given shape or object. Traditionally, contour drawing is done in ink and without ever removing the pen from the paper until the drawing’s completion.

Students were given a selection of artificial flowers and instructed to draw only the contour outline of any chosen flower. While artists often attempt this type of drawing as a practice exercise to help create a stronger visual connection between eye and hand, students were allowed to use pencil to help them correct their mistakes, as necessary. Many, however, preferred to use a pen without the aid of a pencil and eraser.

Grade Two: Paper Pendants

Why do people wear jewelry? Students in grade two learned that people everywhere have decorated themselves with jewelry since ancient times, often for many different reasons. Students examined and discussed several different artisan pendants, some of which incorporated necklace structure, as well. The examples ranged in time period and materials, and students were asked to look for clues to help them determine how each pendant was created. They enjoyed seeing how different cultures have varying styles, how different artists use the same materials differently and how styles have changed over time. Despite the differences, however, some jewelry-making techniques have remained similar over the centuries.
Students were instructed to design and create there own pendant from paper and aluminum foil. They were encouraged to include additional decorations with markers and pencils.

March Masterpiece of the Month: the Dove by Romare Bearden

Who Made It?
An American artists named Romare Bearden created this collage in 1964.

Where Is the REAL One?
The real collage can be seen at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, NY.

Why Is This Artwork Important?
Bearden's special collage techniques groundbreaking because he used cut-up photographs, newspaper clippings and magazines in a manner that seemed to piece together an illustration from a story. He felt the medium of collage allowed him the freedom to improvise and create as ideas came to into his mind.

In The Dove, Bearden creates a scene which captures the feeling of a vibrant, ever-changing city neighborhood. In fact, Bearden grew up in Harlem, NY and he was one of the first artists to depict scenes of African-American life and culture in his artwork. Starting with the white cat the lower left corner, your eyes travel busily from one part of the picture to another, as if we were waking though a busy city street with the activity of daily life passing all around us, always noticing something different. Bearden organized the picture so that our eyes jump from light areas to dark areas, from pattern to pattern. The Dove, a symbol of hope and peace, is perched above everything, as if keeping a close eye on the cats, in case they cause any trouble. This may be an important symbol for Bearden because he created this picture while he was involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960s.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Results Are In! The Peirce School Annual Concert & Art Show 2015

This year's art exhibit, Crossroads of the World: Sights and Sounds of the Caribbean, was a big success thanks to the hard work of students and the support of Peirce staff and families. As always, many thanks for your ongoing support and appreciation!

Tropical Paper Flower Installation
Kindergarten students were introduced to the three-dimensional art form known as installation by discussing a piece created in 2011 by contemporary Caribbean/Surinamese artist, Marcel Pinas, titled, Sanfica. Installation art transforms a physical space and changes how the viewer experiences the space in some manner, often by infusing unexpected materials or objects into the exhibit’s location. 
Students were then shown the work of floral installation artist, Rebecca Louise Law, and discussed how she transforms rooms by hanging thousands of flowers from ceilings, creating a magical and unexpected experience for people in the space.
After briefly discussing the bright, colorful flowers found in the Caribbean, students were informed that they would be creating paper flowers to hang in an installation similar to how Pinas and Law create their work. Students were led through a series of steps to create their flowers, including painting, tracing, cutting and gluing and the pieces were later linked together for the hanging exhibit.

All the Creatures In the Caribbean Sea
Grade One
Students in grade one were introduced to early Caribbean culture with a reading of an origin myth from the native Taino people called, How the Sea Began by George L. Crespo. Like all origin tales, this myth “explains” how the Caribbean Sea and its animals were created, while forming the Caribbean islands in its midst. Students were then shown examples of ancient symbolic stone carvings created by the Taino tribe, called petroglyphs. These simple, stylized carvings represent animals, objects and people once important to the Taino tribe. Students were asked to guess their meanings, while discussing how symbols are used and created.
Students were then asked to create a class list to brainstorm animals living in the warm Caribbean waters. A lengthy list was created and students were shown pictures of colorful ocean wildlife. They were then instructed to paint a symbol to represent one ocean creature of their choice and to use previously learned painting skills such as overlapping colors, incorporating pattern and utilizing different brushstrokes in order to create “symbols” of ocean animals that represent the colorful essence of the Caribbean sea.

Tap Tap Buses
Grade Two
Colorfully painted and heavily decorated buses and trucks can be seen throughout the country of Haiti. Referred to as “tap taps”, these buses serve as a hired cab service for marketplace transportation. Passengers must loudly clap, or tap, the side of the bus to signal the driver when to stop. 
Students in grade two were first shown several photographs of actual tap tap buses, paying close attention to the variety of pattern, symbols and detail used in decoration. No two taps taps are quite the same and each bus owner has their own preferences. This lesson was accompanied by a reading from the book, Tap Tap by Karen Lynn Williams, thus further bringing the tap tap experience to life.
Students were informed that they would be creating their own miniature tap tap buses out of clay. The element of geometric form was incorporated into the project. Each tap tap was built from one rectangular prism and two cylinders and students were led through the process of proper clay construction. The clay pieces were then kiln-fired and students decorated their buses according to their own design.

Paper Carnival Masks
Grade Three
Students in grade three briefly discussed how people from Europe and Africa came to the Caribbean hundreds of years ago, merging together, along with practices from the native tribes, creating a unique heritage and culture that has defined the Caribbean ever since. Today, countries in the Caribbean each have their own festivities and pastimes that originate from these cultures, while also being a separate interpretation. In Puerto Rico, several carnivals are celebrated throughout the country each year that revolve around African music, Spanish lore and the Taino (Native) use of masks. 
The Vejagante is a horned creature that originates from a Spanish legend surrounding Saint James the Apostle. Over the centuries, the character has been reinvented as a jovial, mischievous clown who embodies the playful spirit of these unique Caribbean carnivals. Many Puerto Rican citizens don masks and costumes and mimic the vejagante’s behavior while enjoying and partaking in the festivities. 
Students were shown several examples of papermache vejagante masks, created by folks artists, using traditional and non-traditional styles. Students were then instructed to design their own carnival mask from paper. 

Greetings from the Caribbean: 
Postage Stamp Design
Grade Four
Tourism readily comes to mind when one thinks of the Caribbean. Students, also, were quick to list things that pertained to tropical vacation activities when asked what they associated with the area. This is not surprising considering that travel to Caribbean countries has been a large industry in the area for many decades. However, in addition to climate, natural surroundings and wildlife, there are many attractions in the Caribbean countries, including architecture, cultural heritage and complex history.
Students reviewed and discussed how the character of the Caribbean as we know it today, was created and influenced by the European slave trade and the merging of European, African and Native American cultures, over several hundred years. Students were shown a photographic “tour” of the various aspects of the Caribbean environment, both natural and human-made. They were then shown many examples of postage stamps from various Caribbean countries and islands, with careful attention brought to the type of subject matter that is typically used to depict and represent a particular country. Students were then instructed to design a postage stamp for any Caribbean country of their choice.

Personalized Banner Flags
Grade Five
Students in grade five reviewed and discussed how the character of the Caribbean as we know it today, was created and influenced by the European slave trade and the merging of European, African and Native American cultures, over several hundred years. African people who were brought to the Caribbean colonies to work as slaves, also came with talents, knowledge and skills which they were not permitted to use, including the practice of their religions. However, African religions, as well and music and dance, have influenced aspects of Caribbean life and culture for many people living there today. In Haiti, followers of traditional African religions use heavily sequined banner flags, known as drapos, to garner the attention of African spirits whose help they wish to elicit. These banners are made by Caribbean folk artists using traditional techniques and typically contain the name and symbols pertaining to the spirit for which the banner was created. 
Students were instructed to design a personal banner to represent themselves, choosing symbols that best describe their personalities, interests, hobbies and skills. Students were given an array of shiny materials, including sequins, with which to embellish their banner, making them even more “eye-catching”. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

February Masterpiece of the Month: The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali

Who Made It?
This painting was created by a Spanish artist named, Salvador Dali, in 1931.

Where Is the REAL One?
The real painting can be seen at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, NY.

Why Is This Artwork Important?
Dali usually worked in a style called SURREALISM, which is a style depicting unexpected surprises, the sub-conscious mind and the psychology of dreams. 

The Persistence of Memory is about time, and was inspired by a dream Dali had. The clocks represent the passing of time we experience when we sleep. They are shown to be melting and soft to symbolize that time is meaningless, especially when we dream. The figure in the center of the painting as actually an abstract self-portrait which Dali used frequently in his work. The orange clock is covered with ants, which Dali uses to symbolize death (decay) and the passing of time in our lives. Abstract ideas such as these play a large role in Surrealist art. However, Dali, more than many other Surrealist artists, uses a realistic style which make his strange subject matter and dream-like landscapes seem startlingly familiar.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Kindergarten: Fabulous Feasts!

Many artists use food as subject matter for their work, and food is often present at celebrations of all kinds. Kindergarten students have spent the past few months focused on the many aspects of celebration: masks and costumes, party drawings and now feast collages! After identifying what a “feast” is, students discussed the selected food-related artworks before listing their own favorite foods they would enjoy.
Students were then instructed to create a feast by cutting out appropriate shapes and colors to represent various foods, imagining the colored paper background as their placemat. Small details and texture could be added using markers, and students were encouraged to include and think about other table-setting objects such as dishes, flatware and drinking glasses.