Art History/art and Cultural Appreciation

By Greenman, Geri | Arts & Activities, January 2008 | Go to article overview

Art History/art and Cultural Appreciation


Greenman, Geri, Arts & Activities


The study of art abounds with a natural curiosity of various cultures, and a continuum of historical references linking it all together. Everything that happens to a people is recorded in their art.

This visual history is often the only lasting element of a culture; therefore, as an art teacher, you can open up the world to your students. By examining the art of a country or continent, you can understand its culture. Each civilization has special artistic works, treasures that are held as symbols of value and worth. Be aware of the opportunity you can give your students by introducing artwork from an array of different cultures, ancient and existing.

We've all experienced that when one understands the art from a place in time, appreciation and respect follows. Perhaps a culture that was feared at one time, once understood, allows respect to replace that fear and suspicion.

This issue celebrates the appreciation of art throughout history and various cultures, as seen through the eyes and words of America's art teachers and the lessons they've designed to engage their students in this quest.

tip #1

YOUR TABLE IS READY Our first tip revisits a unique "beginning-of-the-year" organizational idea that also is a nice link to art history. Glenda L., from Miramar, Fla., writes: "I teach in an elementary school with over 1,100 students, so each table in the classroom has a name and a color. (The colors make it easier for the kindergarten and first-grade students.) The theme of my classroom any particular year determines the names of the tables. I've had the Impressionists table, the Italian Renaissance table and an American contemporary artists table, to name a few. We try to incorporate social studies, math, reading, writing and science into our art curriculum."

Bravo! Glenda and colleagues ... this is a wonderful way of breaking down the walls between disciplines, giving your students an understanding of art as it relates to everything in our lives.

Too often, we keep the various disciplines separate. Though we know when there's a connection within the entire curriculum, when the kids are able to see the link, there is more continuity and learning!

tip #2

THE MISSING LINK This tip from Laurel W., from Akron, Ohio: "I try to make an art history link with whatever I am teaching. One of the ways I incorporate that is to cover Kwanzaa before the winter break.

I read a book (1) to my second-grade students and discuss the principles of Kwanzaa. Then they create watercolors incorporating at least one of the principles, which they have to explain to me. I make a tag for display about their principle and their artwork, i.e. Brownie Troop for Unity, Painting for Creativity, Astronaut for Self-Determination, etc. …

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