Lesson Plan: Responding to an Exhibition / Turning Your Classroom Into a Gallery
Lesson created by Joe Fusaro, Senior Education Advisor at Art 21 for the
“Come As You Art: Art of the 1990s” UMMA Exhibition, 2015-2016
Lesson also adapted from “Facing History and Ourselves” Educator Resources
Students will engage with works of art--either in a museum or in a classroom exhibition. Participants “talk back” to the works and create a temporary installation made of text and image. Participants will learn approaches for engaging with works of art including strategies for written responses, visual responses and engaged discussion.
National Core Art Standards
- Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work
- Analyze, interpret, and select artistic work for presentation
- Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work
Two class sessions: one to view and respond to art work, another to create an exhibition and reflect
- Images of artwork, or access to a museum exhibition
- Heavyweight cardstock
- Drawing and painting media
- Large chisel-tip markers
- Select the texts: If you are visiting a museum, these will be selected for you in the exhibition. You may want to narrow down the selection in the interest of time. If you are choosing texts for your classroom, decide which documents, quotes, images, or literary passages to use.
- Organize the texts: If visiting a museum exhibition, take some time to peruse the entire exhibition. If setting up in your classroom, hang or place art work around the room with plenty of space surrounding each work. Decide on an approach: thematic, chronological, etc.
- Prepare students by providing them with appropriate resource materials, necessary content knowledge, and vocabulary
- Instruct students how to view the exhibition, which will depend on your goal for the activity.
· If the goal is to introduce new material, students may record informal notes and observations
· If the purpose is to search for particular information, students may use a graphic organizer or a list of guided questions to organize the information
· If the point is to highlight similarities and differences, students may use a comparison chart or venn diagram
· If the goal is to question a viewpoint, they may write questions or emotional responses to pertinent issues found in the texts.
Students may walk through the exhibition individually, with a partner, or in small groups. The most important factor is controlling traffic to ensure plenty of space to view the work and respond to it without feeling crowded or tempted to stray from the task.
- Verbally respond to the exhibition. Each participant chooses one art work that particularly speaks to him/her. Then each participant takes a few sheets of heavyweight 9x12” card stock and folds each one in half. On the outside of this “talkback card” each person neatly writes a question in marker in response to one work (10 min). Questions from an educator’s point of view (or a student, or a museum novice) should be encouraged. Questions are placed in large, bold lettering on the front of the cards. For example…
· In response to Pepón Osorio’s A Mis Adorables Hijas a teacher may ask, Whose stories get told in my classroom?
· In response to Janine Antoni’s Lick and Lather a participant may ask, How do rituals connect to our notion of identity?
- Visually respond to the exhibition. After writing a question in response to one or more works in the exhibition, participants then draw or paint a visual response to their own question(s) on the opposite side of each card (note: when you stand the cards up “tent-style” the written question and visual response should be easily seen from each side). Visual responses may be graphic designs, paintings, illustrations, cartoons, mixed-media, collage, etc. (30-40 min)
- Converse with the exhibition. Once responses are dry (possibly the next day), participants purposefully install their work in the exhibition itself, in close proximity to the work that inspired the question and artwork. Participants may decide which side of their tent card—the question or the visual response—will “face” the viewer. With a partner, participants then visit a select number of works with “talkback cards” near them- responding to the art and questions posed (20 min). How do the questions allow us to dig deeper? How do the participant works of art affect our response to the images we see?
- Reflection: In writing, or with a partner, respond to one or more questions (10 min):
· How is responding to art in writing different than responding through illustration or discussion?
· How did the questions and images provoke discussion? What kinds of discussion?
· What did we learn through engaging with the cards in the exhibit? How did we perhaps see the exhibition differently?
· How might this “talk back” activity be utilized in other contexts?