Saturday, November 10, 2012

What's Your Symbol? Grant Woods in the Art Class

Yea, I know, you've probably seen it hundreds of times, it's an American icon. But do you know what it's really about?

Also, did you know that using Grant Woods' American Gothic is a great way to bring an American artist and American history into an art lesson.

I start off by asking my students- What they think was going on with going on in American in the years of the 1920s?

Which they usually guess- WW I and the Great Depression.

I then ask the students- How would these two events have effected our country?  How do they think people were feeling after such tremendous emotional upheavals as a great war, financial and employment problems? Their answers are usually- fear, anxiety, depression and uncertainty.

Which leads me to discuss with a Prezi how Woods' American Gothic helped to raise the spirits of Americans when we were going through a time of great turmoil. Inside Woods' painting were  the symbols (faith, family and hard work) of the qualities that made America great. They reminded Americans that these qualities (if held on to) could carry our 
country through the hard times it was going through.

After watching the Prezi and discussing the symbolism of the painting, students are asked to think about what 4 symbols they would use to reflect their qualities and make them special. They then create their own "American Gothic" with a 'farmhouse' (any style house, I once had a pineapple house)  and two figures. Their 4 symbols must some how be included in their picture. 

What do you think about this art lesson? Would this work in your art room? Let me know below in the comments.

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