Magazine article Arts & Activities

In the Studio: Create and Present

Magazine article Arts & Activities

In the Studio: Create and Present

Article excerpt

Annotations and lessons on these pages by Tara Cady Sartorius, Program Director, Alabama Arts Alliance


TREE BIRDS At the top of Oscar Soteno's Tree of Life, is a figure holding two traditional-looking Amate (pronounced "ah-MAH-tay") bark paintings. The paper is made primarily in central Mexico, in San Pablito, in the state of Puebla. Amate paper is created from the inner bark of a type of fig tree. It is boiled, pounded and arranged on special boards to dry in the sun.

The students started their drawings on brown paper bags, and then crumpled them up to create lots of physical texture. After ironing the papers, students painted with dense tempera paint, which retains a matte surface. After the paint was dry, they outlined their images and added details with permanent black marker.

Duncan says this lesson works well for students of all ages. When asked what she might do differently, Duncan replied, "I would encourage students to paint objects, plants or animals that they are familiar with." How would you adapt the lesson to suit your teaching objectives?


ENDURING UNDERSTANDING: Artists and designers shape artistic investigations, following or breaking with traditions in pursuit of creative art making goals.

CREATE: Combine ideas to generate an innovative idea for art making.

RESPOND: Identify and analyze cultural associations suggested by visual imagery.


BRANCHING OUT WITH CULTURAL CONNECTIONS Trees sustain life on earth, and often serve as an artistic metaphor for growth, life and death. This year, the Jewish "New Year for Trees" or Tu B'Shevat, will be celebrated on January 31, 2018.

According to teacher Rebecca Ganz, "The Jewish holiday of Tu B'Shevat is a celebration of trees, growth and renewal. For this project, we discussed as a class the metaphorical significance of not only trees, but of their roots as well, pointing out that both above and beneath the surface lies strength and important value. …

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