American
Identity
Jennifer Hankes
Daniel Webster Elementary
8th Grade
Language and Visual Arts and Social Science
Archibald J. Motley, Jr. (1891-1981)
Self-Portrait, 1920
Oil on canvas; 30 1/8 X 22 1/8 in.
The Art Institute of Chicago
Archibald J. Motley, Jr.
Nightlife, 1943
Oil on canvas; 36 x 47 3/4 in.
The Art Institute of Chicago
Key information & ideas about the
artworks that informed the lesson:
Self-Portrait--wanted to show he was an artist and
a gentleman
Painted during the Great Migration and the
Harlem Renaissance
Negative stereotypes and few opportunities
existed for African Americans in art during this time
Goals for Lesson--what I wanted
students to learn:
Artists tell stories through the images in their
work
Stereotypes influence how we see others and
ourselves
What does it mean to be an American?
One can express his/her identity through texts
and illustrations
A few major learning activities:
Close Read: Formal analysis of Self-Portrait
Research the artwork, artist, and time period
Compare and contrast two different paintings (SelfPortrait and Nightlife)
Compose a narrative to accompany Nightlife
Create a self-portrait
Short Story to
accompany to the
painting Nightlife
Poem written to
accompany
the painting
Nightlife
Self Portrait
Self-Portrait
What my students learned:
• “Paintings tell a story.” –Andrenetta
• “Painting yourself is hard to do.”
– Ronald
• “I learned that paintings can be based
on true events.” –Renita
• “His painting [Archibald Motley’s SelfPortrait] tells a lesson about not to judge
others by how they look.” –Tachetti
What I learned:
Lack of art experience and exposure in
elementary education.
Visual arts are easily integrated into
language arts.
American art is a great tool to grab
students’ interest into a historical time
period.
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Webster School, Jennifer Hankes, 8th Grade Language and Visual