Tag Archives: art

Send Me a Rainbow

If you teach older students who have their own phones, this might be a fun idea for an impromptu writing prompt.  The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has decided to make more of its artwork available to the public by digitizing it and allowing us to text requests.  Only 5% of its entire collection can be viewed in the SFMOMA’s physical building, but thousands more pieces are accessible through this new feature.  You can text the number 57251, and type, “Send me” followed by a keyword or color.  There’s something suspenseful about the whole endeavor that makes it a bit addictive.

I tried it out by texting, “Send me kindness, ” and received the following, somewhat depressing, reply.

Photo Jul 25, 5 35 54 PM

Maybe kindness was too abstract?  So I tried, “Love.”

Photo Jul 25, 5 36 25 PM

Now remember, this is the Museum of Modern Art, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by the answer to my next request.

Photo Jul 25, 5 36 56 PM

Not really sure what the museum bot was trying to tell me there…

Anyway,  I soon discovered that trying to use this activity as a “pick-me-up” was a bit too unpredictable, especially after I received a sad portrait of the war in Iraq after I asked for “home.”  However, my daughter and I did have fun using emojis and asking for pictures of bread and dogs.  (It does work with emojis, by the way.)

Not to be outdone by artifical intelligence, I decided to end our texting communication by asking for something that couldn’t possibly be mis-interpreted in a bleak way by a computer. “Send me a rainbow,” I asked.

And it did.

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Once an Artist

A couple of weeks ago, my Kinder students were working on their #Awards.  One boy looked over at another one, who was carefully drawing details on his paper.

“Are you an artist?” the first student asked with admiration in his voice.

“I used to be one,” the five-year-old responded, matter-of-factly.

“Really?” asked his awestruck fan.

“Yes.  When I was 2 all I did was scribble-scrabble, but then when I was about 3 1/2, I became an artist.”

“Wow!” Fanboy said.  “Why aren’t you one anymore?”

“Well, I ran out of paper,” Once-an-Artist said.  He paused.  “And ideas,” he added.

Then he looked me straight in the eyes.

“But I’m working on getting more,” he solemnly vowed.

I was reminded of this conversation when one of my tweeps, @TEKnical_Lit, shared the link to this powerful video.  Like my Once-an-Artist student, it makes me sad – but hopeful.

Alike short film from Pepe School Land on Vimeo.

crayondrawing.jpg
image from Pixabay

Faberge Eggs

My 4th grade GT students study masterpieces each year.  The story of the Faberge Eggs, annually created for the last Russian czar’s mother and wife, fascinates all of us – especially when considered in the context of the tragedy that later befell the family.  I use this piece of history to discuss empathy – how Faberge displayed it with every detail of his intricate creations, and how the Romanovs’ lack of this important trait resulted in their demise.

Usually, my students create their own Faberge Eggs, and then design “surprises” to go inside a partner’s egg.  They interview their partners and play different games with them to learn more about them.  Then they have a week to make a design that will be particularly meaningful for the other person.

I have cried over some of the incredibly creative ideas that some students come up with for this project.  One year, a student created a military medal for a student who had a soldier parent fighting overseas. There have been poems, clay objects, a message in a bottle, flags, snowglobes, and so many other little presents.  The students scored each other on how meaningful the gifts were – and many of them made up for themselves in thought what they might have lacked in skill.

This year, egg designing season rolled around a bit later than usual.  Since Mothers Day is just around the corner, I decided to have the students decorate their papier mache eggs for their mothers rather than their peers.  They also created 3d printed surprises to put in each egg.

As generally happens when I try something new, there were some successes and some failures.  Without the interviews and other activities we did in previous years, some of the “surprises” seemed to be less deep than in the past.  (This could also be because of the 3d printing limitation.)  Next year, I think we will need to do a few activities to help the students understand their mothers as people rather than just parents, and I will open the project back up to any hand-made surprise instead of only 3d printed ones.

Here is a link to some other Mothers Day activities in case you are interested.

faberge
Some of the Faberge “surprises” from a couple of years ago.

Some of this year’s Faberge Eggs and “surprises” (in between paint coats)

Guernica

Note: As I was looking up resources for this post, I realized that yesterday, the day that I introduced Guernica to my current 4th graders, was the 80th anniversary of its bombing. I’m sure I probably knew that somewhere in my subconscious, but it still sent a chill down my spine when I saw the date.

Every year my 4th grade gifted students study masterpieces of all types – literary, mathematical, and artistic.  “Guernica,” by Picasso is one of the artistic masterpieces that we examine as we discuss the empathy that the visual arts often reflect on the part of the artist.  It is a difficult piece to confront, particularly once you know the history behind it, but I think that it is important to study for many reasons.  Picasso’s internal struggle as a man who disdained using art for political reasons but also a man who felt compelled to convey his emotions with every brushstroke make this painting into an engaging topic of conversation with my students.

Gavin Than recently created another one of his fabulous Zen Pencils comics dedicated to Picasso’s “Guernica,” illustrating a famous quote from Picasso about the piece.  It would be a great way to start a debate in your classroom about whether or not the students agree with Picasso’s stance.  Another philosophical discussion that stems from the painting is the love/hate relationship we have with technology, as symbolized by the light bulb in the center of the painting.  The same technology that allows many people from all over the world travel to see this work of art by air also doomed the Spanish town to being blanket-bombed by the Germans.

For more on teaching with Guernica, here is a Pulitzer Center lesson on interpreting global issues through the lens of the painting.

Older students might also want to take a look at this video, which gives a 3d perspective of the painting.

And, here is a current event news article from Newsela that makes the connection between Guernica and recent tragedies in Syria. (You must log in to view this – registration is free.)

You might also want to try one of these lessons from Read, Write, Think, which also includes links to other Guernica-related sites.

guernica
image from Manuel Galrinho on Flickr

The Great Art Smuggle

So, here’s the thing.  Unscrupulous people are always trying to figure out how to get things out of art museums.  But what if you are a scrupulous person?  And what if you are the producer of the Kid President videos? And what if you get invited to speak at THE Guggenheim museum?

Well, then, you smuggle art in, of course.

At least that’s Brad Montague’s plan.  And he needs your help.  He would like children from all over the world to send him art work. The pieces should be

Great Art Smuggle

It is due by December 7th, and you can get more details from Brad’s video.  

I’m kind of curious to see how he pulls this off…

 

 

Common Ground

According to its website, ” ‘Common Ground‘ is a collaborative kinetic art installation about connecting America through creativity and problem solving.”

The result is a video that shows 5 Rube Goldberg reactions created in 5 different locations across the country.  Each one “triggers” the one that follows.  (I particularly liked the “Women in Stem” portion from  New Hampshire.) The projects reflect major issues representative of the artists’ regions, so the video is probably best for older students who can discuss the message delivered by each one.  The final segment of the video returns to its starting place, Oakland, and addresses the issue of excessive force used by police officers.

image from Common Ground
image from Common Ground

If you find the idea of doing a collaborative Rube Goldberg video intriguing, you may want to sign up your class to participate in this global one that is being produced by Brad Gustafson.  As Brad says, “This will require higher-level thinking, teamwork, and a bunch of other stuff that might not immediately lead to perfect ACT scores.  However, it will model risk-taking, digital-age collaboration, transformative technology use…and maybe even some asynchronous communication.”

The Scream

We all have things that scare us, of course.  In the book that my 5th grade gifted students are reading, The Giver, the main character is “apprehensive” about an upcoming event.  To help the students connect to the text, I asked them to list some of the things that worry or scare them.  Using our green screen and the Green Screen app by DoInk, I had the students superimpose themselves on the image of Edvard Munch’s, The Scream.  The students then used the WordFoto app to add their specific fears to the picture.  Here is one result. (You can click on it to see a larger view.)

scream

When I looked closely at this student’s final product, I noticed the word, “division.”  I was a little upset because I had told the students not to put silly things just to get a laugh.  In my mind, division and multiplication would fall into that category, especially since this particular student has never had any problems achieving well in math.

“Why did you put this word when I told you not to put something silly?” I asked him as I pointed at his picture.

He looked at me solemnly.  “I meant the division of people.  You know, how war and other things divide us.”

Oh.

It’s good I asked…