The purpose of this lesson is to expose students to an African-American’s art and his determination to succeed.
Tell students: A single moment on a battlefield shattered a young man’s arm but not his dreams of becoming an artist. This young man was Horace Pippin.
You will analyze his art and read the story, “Wounded in Action” about his life. As you read his story, identify events in his life that gave him the determination to succeed.
Copies of “Wounded in Action.” Slides. Large sheets of oak tag paper.
Students will identify art by Horace Pippin.
Students will learn that with a deep understanding of a skill and a strong drive to create success can be a reality.
Before reading the story students will analyze several slides of Horace Pippin’s art by using the following guide questions: What is the painting about? What important idea does the painting show you? What do you see in the painting that seems important to know? Why do you thing the artist decided to paint this art work? Have students record their responses. Then discuss the events in Horace Pippin’s life that contributed to his success.
Teacher then shows slides the second time. After analyzing the slides. Teacher reads Pippin once wrote:
How I paint: The colors are very simple, such as brown, amber, yellow, black, white, and green. The pictures come to me in my mind, and if to me it is a worthwhile picture, I paint it. I go over that picture in my mind several times and when I am ready to paint it I have all the details that I need. I take my time and examine every my time and examine every coat of paint very carefully to be sure that the exact color I have in mind is satisfactory to me. Then, I work my foreground away from the foreground-in other words, bringing out my work.”
Tell students to find an event in their lives and if Horace Pippin agreed to painting that event, what would it look like? Display paintings by students.
Horace Pippin Wounded in Action
Romare Bearden and Harry Henderson
When the United States entered World War I, Horace joined the army. This had extraordinary meaning for him, as did everything that happened to him as a soldier. More than twenty years later he wrote about his army life in four autobiographical essays.
Horace joined a unit of black soldiers that reached France in December l917. There, his unit was transferred to the French command as the 369th Regiment and put into action. For three months they took a terrible pounding from the German troops.
Pippin worked to become a good soldier. Soon he was made corporal. Still be found time now and then to sketch his friends and the war-torn landscape.
As a corporal, Pippin served at a lonely listening post far out in no-man’s land. His job was to report enemy movement and protect the main body of troops against surprise attacks. Men assigned to the outpost were often killed.
One night Pippin’s company moved to a new section of the front lines. They were told they were going “over the top” at daybreak. Shortly after dawn, following heavy enemy fire, the company climbed over the top of the trenches and charged.
“The snipers were plentiful”, Pippin later wrote. I remember spotting a shell hole, and I made a run for it. Just as I was within three feet and getting ready to dive in, I was hit in the shoulder.”
Pippin fell into the shell hole among three other soldiers. One bound his wound. Then they left him. When Pippin tried to crawl out, however, enemy shooting drove him back.
Two stretcher-bearers eventually found Pippin. They carried him out of the hole and laid him beside a path. “It started to rain that morning about nine. It rained all day. At night it increased. My stretcher was full of water. At about ten o’clock I knew that help was coming. I could hear them splashing in the mud. Some nearly stepped on me.” Finally the new troops sent their stretcher-bearers to take Pippin to a first-aid station.
When Pippin was finally taken to a base hospital, little could be done for his wounded arm. He was sent to America on a hospital ship and discharged on May 22, l919. “My right arm was bound to me. I could not use it for anything,” he later recalled. Every man in the 369th Regiment was awarded the Croix de Guerre for heroic services. Its soldiers and officers had spent l91 days in the front lines, five days more than any other U.S. troop. Pippin was proud of this all his life.
Pippin went back to West Chester to his family. He thought that getting used to life with a shattered arm would be easier there. The government provided a small disability pension. Clearly there was little work he could do.
He met Jennie Ora Featherstone Wade, a widow with a young son, and a year later they were married. Jennie Pippin took in wash to help support the family. Horace got odd jobs from time to time.
But Horace missed working at things he knew how to do. Mostly, however, he missed being able to draw. He thought of the pictures he had done in France and wished he still had them. He would have been able to show people what it was like in the war. Sometimes by holding his right arm in his left hand, he could support his right hand long enough to sketch a few lines. But his hand usually smudged the drawing.
Henry O. Tanner
The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students Henry O. Tanner’s paintings. Explain that he was the first African-American to be elected to a full member of the National Academy of Design. His paintings won prizes in the Paris Salons and were purchased by many American museums. His name is Henry O. Tanner.
Copies of slides. Slide projector.
Students will analyze organizational structure of Henry O. Tanner paintings.
Students will judge the value of the a work of art by using internal criteria.
Teacher might have students determine the necessary elements in a successful work of art. Teacher then show students slides of Tanner’s paintings and analyze and discuss each. Explain that a successful work of Art is the emotional force of the images it projects. Then show “The Banjo Lesson” by Tanner. Ask students how the painting makes them feel and write a story describing feelings.
African-American Masters of American Art
Minority contributions to the cultural heritage of our nation have too often been overlooked in our schools. For example, African-American Artists have made outstanding contributions to American Art History but very few people aware of them.
The artist Joshua Johnston, the mysterious painter of the 19th century Baltimore who has become known recently through a number of portraits which bear the distinct touch of a master. There is Robert S. Duncanson whose landscape paintings helped to shape an American school of landscape painting. Next, there is Henry Ossawa Tanner, who portrayed in thick, rich and dark colors, scenes from black life and from the Bible. There is Horace Pippin who burned into wood with a hot poker both the horrors of war and the joys of country life. Then there is Augusta Savage, who sculpted the famous and unknown among her contemporaries and helped to inspire a future generation of African-American artists. There is William H. Johnson, who aspired to be an artist at an early age, inspite of his poverty and lack of education. Last, there is Jacob Lawrence, one of those youths encouraged by Augusta Savage, who is living today-one of America’s most important painters. He painted the history, heroes and bold patterns of colors Africa has given the world.
Slides and projector. Hand-outs of information about artists.
Students will use their knowledge of the artists they choose to write a play, story or construct a mural about a chosen theme.
We are starting an important unit on African-American Masters of American Art. You are to work on an individual as well as a group project. During the course of the unit, I hope to bring you into contact with real paintings of the artists by visiting an art exhibit. Most of the artists lived and worked in the past.
You will be getting information from books, slides and articles which will enable you to answer questions raised below: What was there in the life of the person you have chosen that interested you? Are there any things in your life which are similar to his/hers? For what things did you admire him/her most? Have you known any other any other adults who have these qualifications? What exactly did s/he achieve? Were his/her goals at all like any you have dreamed up for yourself? What difficulties did s/he have to undergo to achieve his/her goals? In what ways was s/he weak? How did this hurt him/her? How would s/he make out in our world?