Cave Art Becomes Performance Art

Article excerpt

This unit of study helped students connect their artistic experiences with their understanding of prehistoric times. The unit, culminating in a performance, involved three sixth-grade classes. The components of the thematic unit reinforced an understanding of the elements and principles of design and gave the students experiences in various media.

Video presentations on the elements and principles of design introduced students to the vocabulary of art. That vocabulary was then applied in discussions about the origins and traditions of prehistoric cave art.

Students read articles and books and viewed videotapes about the discovery of prehistoric cave art by children in Lascaux, France. We talked about what it must have been like to live in prehistoric times without the advantages of today's technology. What did children eat? What games did they play?

We continued our study by making contour drawings of animals on brown paper that was crumpled and textured to look like stone. We learned about finding drawing materials in nature. Students made a field trip to the shore of Lake Michigan where they collected shells, feathers, charcoal from campfires, as well as stones and clay to be used in their art.

The clay was used to make pottery, which students painted in monochromatic colors with decorations that depicted their tribe. The stones they collected were used to make fire pits, and the charcoal was used in the drawing of animals on the walls of their cave.

In a hallway outside the artroom, students covered the walls and ceiling with brown and black paper, which they crumpled to create the illusion of rocks. …