Art Literacy

art literacy excerpt2
Clementine Hunter

 

In November of 2016 I read about a symposium that addressed the challenge of educating immigrant children.  The symposium was held at the Roosevelt School District, in Roosevelt, New York.  Not long after this symposium was held, I read that research indicates children from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit from cultural enrichment.   These two bits of information were connected in my mind and from that connection grew the idea for Art Literacy

Art Literacy is a showcase for artistic expression, and an invitation to create art.  The picture at the top of the page, of Clementine Hunter, and the excerpt below this paragraph, are typical of material students will find in the book.   A total of forty-three feature images are presented.  At least one smaller image accompanies the feature image.   In the case of Clementine Hunter, there are two feature images and two companion images. 

A caption that describes Clementine Hunter’s personal history:

clementine Blurb

A smaller image that helps to introduce Clementine Hunter to students:

clothesline website
Clothesline, by Clementine Hunter.  The Picture is Credited to the Ethel Van Derlip Morrison Fund.

 

With every picture, there is an invitation to act.  Students are asked to write a response and to create a visual work of art.  They are reminded of art’s essential nature:  It is a genuine expression of an individual’s perspective and experience.   

The kinds of images featured in Art Literacy range from a Sami family (Lapland) posing in front of a traditional residence, to children playing along the seashore in Zanzibar.  Subjects covered include Stone Age cave art and NASA space missions.  

There are quotes from James Baldwin, and there is poetry from Rabindranath Tagore. 

The question is asked at the beginning of the book, What is art?  By the end of the book, students may be prepared to answer,  Art is a form of communication, a way for people to share their perceptions and insights.

A supplemental guide to Art Literacy has been created.  This consists of keyed sheets that offer background information on some of the covered topics.   The sheets can be copied and distributed to students who want them.

Collages introduce the five thematic sections: Animals in Art, Fantasy in Art, People in Art, Places in Art and Things in Art.  The collages are visual demonstrations of the book’s operating theme: Let imagination be the guide as experience and perception are explored.

A representative collage, from the section entitled Fantasy in Art, is shown below:

 

collage fantasy elsas pig2 website

Art Literacy is for sale on Amazon.  However, the long-term plan is to set up an apparatus through which the book and accompanying material can be distributed, at no cost, to students.  

 

art literacy front cover website

 

A. G. Moore    June, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

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If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient Greece: Book Review

poseidon-2
Poseidon, as drawn by Marie Briot, 1685

By Carole P. Roman

According to renowned psychologist Jean Piaget (1896-1980), young children go through an egocentric stage of development. At this time in their lives, they don’t have the ability to imagine experience from another point of view. The world is important only in so far as it relates to them. Piaget’s discovery is something most parents and teachers recognize and it is the principle at work in Carol Roman’s If You Were Me and Lived in….Ancient Greece. The book puts the child at the center of the Ancient Greek universe.

Concrete, realistic scenes carry the narrative forward. Children are invited to use their imagination and place themselves in various real-life situations. Each of these scenarios is accompanied by a vivid illustration.

If You Were Me and Lived in… Ancient Greece is not a long book, but it does manage to convey a trove of information. The marketplace, domestic life and even politics are covered. Some information will be startling, though not upsetting, to young children. Learning about the Greek system of slavery will certainly impress them. They might find it hard to believe that a person can be free, captured and then enslaved for life. Equally surprising may be the discussion about gender roles. Girls will no doubt protest when they learn how diminished their status would be, if they lived in Ancient Greece.

One aspect of Greek culture that is handled skillfully is the subject of gods. As children grow older they’ll probably be obliged to learn about Greek mythology. Familiarity with the most important of the gods will likely help them to sort the myriad personalities. Each god introduced by Ms. Roman is presented in the context of that deity’s role in society. Poseidon, for example, rules the sea, so shipping and trade are connected to him. And Heracles, known for extraordinary strength, is associated with a description of the Olympics.

If You Were Me and Lived in …Ancient Greece is beautifully illustrated. The book begins with an airplane ride and magically transports children to another time and place. It is a journey they will eagerly embrace. Be prepared to read this book many times, because it is bound to become a favorite.

An Invitation To Write, For ‘Non-Writers’

pen and paper
Try to see the blank page as an opportunity and not a challenge.

By A. G. Moore

You’re probably reading this essay because you want to improve your writing skills. That is the first and most important step on the path to good writing. The next step is easier.  Pick up your instrument of choice–a pen, a pencil, a keyboard–and start writing.

Writing is like speaking.  At first, when you begin–whether it’s a foreign language or your native language in the early years of life–speaking requires great effort. You struggle for the correct phrase. You stumble and make mistakes.  After a while, as you practice and use language on a daily basis, your speech becomes smoother. You think less about how you say something and more about what you want to say.  This is fluency.

Fluency is the goal in writing and is achieved in exactly the same way that it is accomplished in speech: practice.  The more frequently you write, the more fluent your writing becomes.  Once fluency is achieved, certain techniques and rules will help to make the writing more effective. These rules and techniques are easily mastered, but they won’t work unless you have something to use them on.  So write–anything.  Write what you’d like to say.  Worry about correctness later.

Organization, grammar, style–these will come with time. Think of the pieces you write as blocks of clay.  Each time you start out there is no shape, no form to the clay.  As you begin to mold you have an idea of what you would like to see at the end of your sculpting.  After the first cuts, the lump of clay won’t look like anything.  After a while, as you shape a crude form, you can go back with your chisel and refine your art.

That’s exactly what happens in most writing.

Of course, there are exceptions. There are brilliant masters who have a touch of genius.  Words pour from them as water does from a fountain. Most of us don’t have that gift. Most of us will settle for communicating effectively.  If that is your goal, then form an idea, sit in front of a blank page and begin to express your idea.  Once you have words on a page, once you have the rough clay crudely formed, you can use basic techniques to fashion a finished product.  Logic, grammar, style–these are just carefully targeted cuts in the clay.  They can be added and adjusted as the piece takes shape.

The more often you engage in the process of writing, the more fluent you will become. If you doubt this, think about the way you learned to speak. You’ll realize that the separation between the spoken word and the written word is merely a matter of perspective and familiarity. Both of these are in your control and really present no barrier at all.