After learning about the concept of conflict in our world, my students will begin to understand what art is, and what it means to look at art. Many people are intimidated or resistant to the thought of looking at art, and most of my students have never been inside an art museum, so it is vital to begin this process with a simple, streamlined approach. This part of the unit will begin with a pre–assessment, to judge what the students' prior knowledge consists of, and to examine their interest and engagement levels in what they think art is. The students will be given a sheet with the image of the Mona Lisa, and a few short questions as to what they see. Then, they will read two short quotes from Pablo Picasso, and give feedback. Then, they will copy down short definitions for art, perspective and tension. Much like the students did when elaborating on the types of conflict; the students will give examples of art, tension, and perspective as an exit slip and as a form of checking for comprehension and understanding.
Following the art pre–assessment and the vocabulary building, the students will begin to incorporate their previously learned skill of making inferences and apply it to viewing art. The students will be given a template that helps organize their thoughts on what their eyes see as well as provide a scaffold to help them analyze the art. The most important step in the art analysis is to have the students feel comfortable and confident in making and sharing observations. With this in mind, we will begin to look at art by using an LCD projector in the classroom. This learning begins with their ability to make simple observations and make conclusions on what their eyes can process. Once they get into the routine if this approach they can begin to learn how to look at art work and not feel intimidated and uncomfortable with looking at fine art. The YouTube clip of Richard Murray, senior curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum analyzing
"Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way"
by Leutze , provides a good starting point for the students. Murray explains to trust what your eyes see, and that the process of viewing art, especially western art can be educational and enlightening.
The next step in this process would be to actually look at images and begin to express their thoughts and views. The student's observations will be better served from the foundation given, the previous lessons in the unit of when and where, as well as an understanding of people's motivations to endure such hardships and challenges for the ability to live free. The students will look at paintings done by Frederic Remington, and American artist who captured the vastness and unpredictability of the American Frontier wonderfully. These lessons will contain a number of Remington's works that illustrate many forms of conflict as well as giving the viewer a unique perspective and understanding of the people who lived in America in the late 1800's. Remington's 'Sioux Warriors, a.k.a. The Attack' done in 1889, shows understand the American Indian's feelings towards the oncoming settlers as well as the feeling of terror felt by the Americans in foreign land that did not belong to them. Then, they will look at Remington's piece titled 'Twenty–five to One, a.k.a. The Last Stand' that shows how American soldiers faced great odds when facing a Native tribe that would die to defend their land. It is a concept both universal and applicable in today's world. There are a number of other pieces by Remington that will be shown to the students to further their own cognition and understanding of the types of conflict and its impact on literature and life.
When introducing a new concept or trying to get students positively engaged in a lesson, it is important to find material that they would find interesting or appealing.
Showing Frederic Remington's 'Twenty Five to One, a.k.a. The Last Stand' would interest my mostly young male classroom population for its violence, gun play and detail. Once the students see the piece they will be asked to share their observations, views and opinions on the work. Using the art analysis template, the students will record their observations, make an inference and classify what they see into the three categories (Objects/activities, colors, expressions/emotions). Once these steps are completed, the students will be able to choose which types of conflict apply to the art, from what they learned in the earlier lesson.