January/February 2023

Visual Culture

Art teachers encourage students to develop visual and digital literacy skills. Young students learn about Froebel’s Gifts and participate in a series of scaffolded lessons, elementary students explore the concept of unity in art-making and photograph compositional designs, middle-school students use surprising materials to construct hyperrealistic food items, and high-school students create imaginative Doodle Art inspired compositions.

View This Issue

Highlights From This Issue

Editor’s Letter: Visual Culture
Editor's Letter

Editor’s Letter: Visual Culture

Your digital native students are immersed and engaged in visual culture in every aspect of their lives through their computers, digital devices, television, video games, and more. Developing visual and digital literacy—learning to interpret and understand the visual messages they are receiving—is incredibly important for them. We hope the lessons in this issue will inspire your students to share powerful visual messages.

Read Article
Froebel’s Gifts
Early Childhood

Froebel’s Gifts

Imagine drawing a single cube—a straightforward task for an art teacher. Now imagine drawing another cube so it looks like it’s on top of the first. This will activate your brain to search for experiences handling real cubes before you draw. Now imagine our youngest students who can hardly hold a pencil when we first meet them. By guiding them through the process of investigating and engaging with the real world, we can have a lasting impact on their ability to successfully express themselves.

Read Article
Hello Comics
Elementary

Hello Comics

Each student was challenged to draw a comic strip that communicates their name and at least three things they want us to know about them. These introductory comics were a perfect way for us to get to know each other. Students used words and pictures to show us who they are. Each student’s introductory comic gave me a quick impression of their skills, their interests, their potential areas for growth, and even their sense of humor. It was the perfect way to start a workshop.

View this article in the digital edition.

Creatively Organized
Elementary

Creatively Organized

Students would explore the concept of unity in art-making and choose found objects to create interesting compositional designs. Students collected everyday objects such as paper clips, candy, and other small items to organize and photograph. Once they brought their items to class, they planned out various design compositions in their sketchbooks. After they assembled the pieces for the final design, we held a gallery stroll so they could get comments before taking photos.

View this article in the digital edition.

Surf’s Up
Middle School

Surf’s Up

My school is located a few blocks from the coast, so naturally people in the area turn to the ocean for food, work, and play. The location also brings in tourism and events such as large-scale art shows, surf compositions, and concerts. With this in mind, I coordinated a partnership with my school and the best-known surf and skate shop in the area, Wave Riding Vehicles (WRV). For this project, I wanted a spot in the local community where students could display their work and relate to the culture, and where there would be a diverse audience.

Read Article
Pastry Case Revisited
Middle School

Pastry Case Revisited

I developed a seventh-grade lesson that focused on Claes Oldenburg’s Pastry Case I and wowed students by bringing in Greely Myatt’s cake slice to double the inspiration. I then told them the story of the cake as we compared it to Pastry Case I. Next, students chose a food item they wished to construct. They researched and printed out an image of the actual food item or used their own photos for reference. This allowed them to infuse more realism into their subject.

View this article in the digital edition.

Oodles of Doodles
High School

Oodles of Doodles

Recently, I was swiping through Instagram when I stumbled upon an art style called Doodle Art. Doodles are defined by Wikipedia as “simple drawings that can have concrete representational meaning or may be composed of random and abstract lines or shapes.” The artworks I saw had many of these characteristics, but what caught my attention was the fun characters the artists incorporated within these imaginative, whimsical compositions. Inspired by the compositions and the concept of Doodle Art, I developed a lesson for my beginning level high-school students.

Read Article
Tattoos in Visual Culture
High School

Tattoos in Visual Culture

Tattoos are a powerful discussion starter for a range of identity-related topics. They spur conversation about contemporary culture, fashion, and appropriated images. They show up in the movies my students watch, are front and center in video games, and are emblems of rebellion on the faces of music icons. Tattoos also have symbolic significance akin to rites of passage and can strike some people as being ethereal and mystical in addition to being aesthetically pleasing.

View this article in the digital edition.

Focusing on Visual Literacy
Point of View

Focusing on Visual Literacy

Think back to the last image you saw. Was it on social media, TV, a computer screen, your cell phone? Or was it in a museum, library, or on a billboard along the highway? Every time we blink, turn our heads, or get into a car, we are bombarded with visuals. From stoplights to bumper stickers, we have almost become immune to the intended effects of such images. Yet, visual literacy is a 21st century skill and part of the Common Core Standards. Visual literacy is the ability to interpret, recognize, appreciate, and understand information presented visually.

Read Article
Material Connections
Contemporary Art in Context

Material Connections

Sopheap Pich (b. 1971) is regarded as Cambodia’s most internationally recognized contemporary artist, renowned for producing sculpture in local materials, such as bamboo, rattan, burlap from rice bags, beeswax, and earth pigments. His works are inspired by landscape, Cambodian history, plant forms, and even human anatomy. Pich hopes that viewers will derive feelings of positive energy and joy from his work as they ponder the intricacies of his materials and weaving techniques.

View this article in the digital edition.

Always Stay in the Loop

Want to know what’s new from Davis? Subscribe to our mailing list for periodic updates on new products, contests, free stuff, and great content.

Back to top