October 2019

Joy

Art teachers express the concept of joy as it relates to art. Students create miniature, wearable eye portraits to gift to family and friends; collaborate with professional artists on an annual pen pal drawing project; assemble mixed-media boxes based on their favorite mythological stories; create highly individualized large-scale portraits; respond to street art and local mural festivals; and more.

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Highlights From This Issue

Editor's Letter
Editor's Letter

Editor's Letter

Watching Marie Kondo’s Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, has me thinking about joy, but as it applies to art. Her method, introduced in her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, encourages sorting by category, beginning with clothes, then books, papers, miscellaneous items, and, finally, sentimental items. Kondo recommends that you only keep items that “spark joy.”

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Observational Eyes
Early Childhood

Observational Eyes

It’s exciting to incorporate a bit of history into an art lesson, and this jewelry design project afforded a perfect opportunity. We took our five- and six-year-old artists on an excursion to the furthest corner of the Philadelphia museum of art, through a series of period rooms bringing us deeper into the past, to a small room filled with Georgian miniatures. Students absorbed all the details of the intricate, tiny portraits in the gallery before we settled in to talk about what we had come to see: the museum’s collection eye miniatures, or Lover’s Eyes.

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Mail Art Madness
Elementary

Mail Art Madness

When I was a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art, one of my favorite teachers, Ken Krafchek, told us to get in touch with a working artist. My classmates and I had to write brief reports about the artists we chose and what they said about their careers. At the library, I found the phone number of a favorite illustrator, Eric Drooker, and gave him a call. He was very kind and took a break from vacuuming to answer my questions about the high and the low points of his career. I was hooked! I wanted to be an artist, and I wanted to talk to more of my heroes.

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Artist-Inspired Bobbleheads
Elementary

Artist-Inspired Bobbleheads

I remember receiving my first bobblehead when I attended a home opener game for the Philadelphia Phillies. It was a painted figurine of a baseball player with a comically large head that was so fun to see bouncing in place. The bobblehead was made in recognition of the team’s success. I thought, what a cool way for students to do the same with famous artists to grasp a better understanding of who they are and their major accomplishments.

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Boxed Mythology
Middle School

Boxed Mythology

I collaborated with my student Sarah Oschmann, who wrote most of this article. This lesson, inspired by artist Joseph Cornell, is rooted in the theme of mythology. Students were required to dive deep into a chosen myth and extract the symbols and meanings of the stories. Using those symbols, they would create a mixedmedia box sculpture.

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Underneath the Surface
Middle School

Underneath the Surface

For millennia, all human cultures have recorded stories and events on the surface of clay. From the myths illustrated on ancient Greek ceramics to the delicate depictions of life in the Chinese Ming dynasty, the permanence of clay has allowed us to view and understand images of these historical periods.

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#YOURTURN: A Documentary Project
High School

#YOURTURN: A Documentary Project

One of the first things we learn as children is how to take a turn. This past school year, I launched a collaborative project called #YOURTURN. This is a photo-based project about interaction, engagement, conversation, and collaboration. When our stories are seen and heard, we are given the mechanism through which to discover our common bonds.

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Big Portraits
High School

Big Portraits

When you’re at a museum, observing a larger-than-life face in a spectacular gold frame, you can’t help but wonder, “Who is that? Why did that person get painted? Is that face a famous one?” I was recently struck by such a painting, Mrs. Hale as “Euphrosyne” by Kehinde Wiley in the North Carolina Museum of Art. Wiley’s street models are imbued with a sense of importance as they assume poses from art history.

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Putting It Together
Advocacy

Putting It Together

Many schools regularly stage musicals. Their staging invites creative art lessons that can complement musicals’ themes and songs. For several years, I coordinated art lessons and curriculum initiatives with eight high-school musicals in the form of lobby displays, cafeteria displays, and projects. Museum educator Linda D’Acquisto describes how students can tap into their creativity by producing museum displays. What she describes is similar to the musicalinspired displays we created in our school lobbies and cafeteria.

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Ellen Mueller: Examining Ideas through Intermedia Artwork
Looking & Learning

Ellen Mueller: Examining Ideas through Intermedia Artwork

Ellen Mueller’s drawings, videos, interactive installations, performances, and social action artworks explore social and political issues such as climate change, the 24-hour news cycle, and our media-filtered world. However, drawing and collage are also important elements in her work, and she derives inspiration from interaction with people, communities, and nature. She is a truly intermedia artist who explores a single topic through a variety of processes and media.

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