Sea and Rain

Watery Earth (Developed by Paula Rand for 4th graders, March 20, 2019)

Water is the most valuable substance on earth. Our bodies are about 70% water and the planet is nearly 75% water. One interesting thing about water is that it is a colorless, odorless, tasteless liquid at room temperature. If it has color odor or taste that would be due to some other substance that is dissolved in the water. Only 3% of the earth’s water is fresh water and that includes the water that is in a solid state as ice. Less than 1% of the earth’s water is drinkable fresh and liquid. Water is always in motion from evaporation to precipitation to its journey through lakes and rivers and groundwater back to the sea. In effect the total amount of water moves but the quantity does not change. One of the surprising characteristics of water is that it can be:

  •   gas or

  •   liquid or

     solid

    When it is solid it expands and that’s why it floats. Some uses for Water:

     Drinking
     Growing plants
     Cooking
     Cleaning
     Running equipment (source of power) Generating power (Niagara Falls)
     Recreation
     Transportation
     Food source (Fish, seaweed)
     Fire fighting

    STOP 1: Mezzanine level of the apse has several landscapes that depict water as a vapor. There is the sense of vapor in Tryon or Eaton’s Twilight paintings. William Hart’s Adirondacks painting depicts vapor as the sky and hills become more pastel towards the horizon. Whistler’s Sea and Rain shows salt water, precipitation and mist. Monet’s Break-up of the Ice shows water as snow and ice. Look at a variety of these and think how the artist has depicted water in different states. What about the color palette for a pond as opposed to icy salt water?

    STOP 2: Helen Frankenthaler’s Sunset Corner. This is a landscape with a huge sky. Think about the colors used in the sky. You might talk about her painting technique with very thin paint that is tipped around the canvas instead of applied thickly and how it gives the impression of a veiled view. Do you think this is fresh water or salt water?

STOP 3: Eugene Atget’s photo of St. Cloud is located in a drawer under the Calder mobile. The photo is a black and white photo of a man-made pond that reflects the surrounding shrubbery. This demonstrates how we use water for decorative purposes. Laura Owens’ large tableau called Park Fountain is another example of using water for decorative purposes.


If you look very closely at Boating on the Bay by James Weeks you can see a grayish sailboat on the far right. We use water for recreational purposes in this way. Discuss some of the other ways we use water for recreation like, canoeing, water skiing, snowboarding, skating, tobagganing. Tarzana by Grace Hartigan shows people swimming in water.

STOP 4: Korean gallery has beautiful examples of celadon pottery. It is made from clay that is found on the Korean penninsula. This clay contains iron oxide that is the crucial element in making this particular shade of green in the glazed pot. The process of making celadon requires sifting the iron-rich clay in pools of water to get a finer and finer clay. Once it is sifted to its silkiest grain it is formed into a pot then glazed in a low-oxygen kiln at a very high heat. Water plays a very important first step in ensuring the clay is of the finest possible grain before making the pot.

STOP 5: Inuit sculpture depicts what is familiar to that society. There is a walrus and there is a man who appears to be ice fishing. The Inuit peoples use the sea to provide food and clothing. Sometimes they use blocks of ice to build igloos for shelter. They travel over the ice in dog sleds or snowmobiles so ice allows for transportation where they may not have roads.

STOP 6: Cosmogonic Tattoos by Jim Cogswell. Here I think the students should sit at the tables and look at the tattoos to see if they can see a 1) rough sea, 2) smooth ponds,
3) thunderstorm. If they can pick out some of these conditions they should draw them. This will reinforce the idea of how an artist can depict different states of water. This installation is about the transportation of ideas and people over water. There is also an element of hazard in that too much water can cause floods and damage or drowning. Discuss how that is conveyed by Jim Cogswell.


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April 2, 2019 2:14 p.m.


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