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(Art Technology): For art/technology class, we were required to make a music video to the band Ratatat. Our art teacher knew the band and was going to ask them to come in and watch our music videos. When we first started making them, I felt so stressed because technology is definitely not my best subject. As I got more into it, I was able to see how fun making videos were. Though it was partially an in-class project, I found that I did not want to stop working on it. I continued it at home and my mom would even tell me that I had been working on it too long. I found that the best way to learn is to have fun!
(Design Technology): For me, one of the most rewarding and engaging projects I’ve embarked on in recent years was the Design Technology project in my ceramics class last year (11th grade). The goal of the project is to transform real-life objects into clay replicas, imitating the features and qualities of the object as accurately as possible…I chose a shoe designed by Alexander McQueen, one of my favorite designers. The main challenge of the project was that because Alexander McQueen’s designs are often exaggerated and eccentric, this shoe featured an eight-inch stiletto heel and an odd, curved, hoof-like front. My ceramics teacher and I worked for weeks to copy the shoe and though at times it seemed like it would not be possible, we managed to re-create it…Although I could not have completed this project without my ceramics instructor, I accomplished a lot more than I thought I would be able to on my own as well.
15. FINE ARTS (Theatre Appreciation): In Theatre Appreciation (grades 9-12) we do a project called “Make Your Own Greek Tragedy.” After the students some reading about Greek Tragedy and listen to a lecture with a PowerPoint presentation on the structure of Greek Tragedy I divide the students into groups of 4-6 people and provide the following instructions.
• Your group will write and perform a play according to the structure below. You must choose a familiar fairytale to dramatize. Remember that Greek Tragedy uses a “late point of attack.”
• Everyone in the group will be an actor. You may have as many characters as you want, as long as you never have more of them onstage at one time than you have members in your group. At least two people should serve as the chorus.
• You will make all necessary masks for your characters and for the chorus. Be sure the chorus masks indicate who the chorus is supposed to represent.
• You will not be required to memorize your lines.
• You are not required to use props or scenery, but if you want to do so, you will need to make or find what is necessary.
• At the completion of the project you will hand in your script, and your grade will be based both on the script and the performance.
• Note: Although, of course, real Tragedy always ends unhappily, it is not so easy to find familiar fairytales that don't have happy endings, so please create a new and tragic ending for your fairytale.

Your play will have the following structure:

Characters speak, perhaps directly to the audience. Tell us what the play is going to be about, and what you think we will learn from it.

Chorus, in unison, tells us what has happened before the beginning of the action of the play. They should also tell us who they are. If you want, you can have the chorus speak in verse.

Episode 1
Characters, in masks, act out the beginning of the action of the play. If you want, you can have the chorus interrupt the action to ask questions or make comments. Remember that characters in Greek Tragedy tend to talk a lot about decision making and moral choices ‹what should I do? Am I doing the right thing? Etc. Remember that anything violent should take place offstage, with a character or “messenger” entering to tell us what happened.

Choral Ode 1
Chorus speaks about something connected with the theme of the story, but not necessarily about the story itself. Or, if you prefer, you may use a popular song or poem here, that you think expresses the mood or theme at this point in the play.

Episode 2
Characters act out the next part of the story, again with choral comment if you want.

Choral Ode 2
(See Choral Ode 1)
(If necessary, you may add more Episodes and Odes here.)

Final Episode
Characters act out the end of the story.

As or after the characters leave, the chorus tells us what we have learned from the story.
(Art): Students are invited to create Social Justice Collages as part of their Eighth Grade Art experience. We begin by defining the term “social justice” and then viewing a wide range of artwork on the theme of social justice. We look at art historical exemplars such as Goya, Kathe Kollwitz and Edmonia Lewis. We view contemporary artists such as Joyce Scott and Luba Lukova. We discuss issues such as racism, starvation, animal abuse, body image, recycling and global warming.

Students are then invited to choose a social justice issue that is important to them. They are encouraged to select a topic that is close to their hearts. I stress that it is all right to disagree, even with me. It is all right to choose something that someone else might not consider important. Student may decide to choose something that reflects an aspect of their own personal experience. I ask them to consider if they have ever been treated a certain way because they are girls, rather than boys, or because they are teenagers, rather than adults.

Once the topic is selected, students must state a clear and specific point-of-view. Then, the difficult task of transforming that point-of-view into a visual statement begins. They are not allowed to use words. I stress that we are using symbols and metaphors, relying on a visual language, not a spoken or written one. Even the use of common symbols, such as the heart or peace sign, is limited.

The collages must have a three-dimensional element. Students are encouraged to think outside of the rectangular form. Solutions to this art problem have included hanging elements, doors that open into the collages, paint, found objects, even a fishbowl form made out of wire. No medium is off-limits, as long as there is an element of collage in the piece.

Whenever I teach this unit, I am always afraid that students will balk, that they will dislike the emphasis on what they might see as depressing or overwhelming topics. They might not see what these topics have to do with their lives. However, for the most part, the vast majority of students take this art problem very seriously. Students who appear more interested in slumber parties than political parties are suddenly engulfed in a sea of clippings, as they solemnly page through National Geographic to find pictures of an endangered species.

The power to define their own topic and their own point-of-view is, in my opinion, what draws the student artists in. They feel a sense of ownership and, I hope, empowerment. In a young lifetime of being told what to think and feel by friends, the media and celebrities, they are the image makers, they are the ones in power. They are consciously deciding how they feel about something important. They are boldly preparing to share that statement with their community. Of course, there are a few students who may choose not to engage fully, who may select a topic that they think will satisfy the requirements of the assignment, without taking the opportunity to invest in something of vital importance to them. But, from my observations, this is a small group. Most of the artists appear to relish the chance to have their voices heard. As they work through the problem, and decide what message they wish to communicate, it is my job to help the artists communicate that message with elegance, strength and power.