Over the last two years my year 9 art program has developed into a more experimental and conceptual program suitable for this age group. Social Tribes is the overarching theme, inspired by Seth Godin’s TED Talk on Tribes from several years ago.
I have adopted the following titles to break the course into two significant sections:
The Fathers of Modern Art
Students explore the aims, influences and practices of the Impressionist artists of both Europe and Australia. They complete a Drawing unit looking at ‘People in Places’ embracing the idea of depicting real people in everyday activities, such as Edgar Degas, Toulouse Lautrec, Paul Gauguin and Tom Roberts. Their personal artistic responses are derived from original photographs. Different drawing materials may be selected each semester but the emphasis still remains on colour, tone, light and textures.
‘Local Impressions’ is the second unit and gives students the opportunity to experiment with oil paints. Experimentation takes place on small canvases much like the 9″ by 5″ works of the Australian Impressionists. Again, students are expected to work from original photos. As the college I work at is in Bayside Melbourne, students are readily able to photograph and paint the same scenes as Charles Condor and Tom Roberts. Students may also pint landscapes from their own homelands or travels.
“The title of the 9 by 5 Impression Exhibition was inspired by the dimensions of a majority of the paintings (nine inches by five inches or 23cm x 13cm, approximately), as well as their Impressionist style. Many of the paintings were painted on cigar box lids collected from tobacconists, but just as many were most were painted on board. There were also a number of paintings on canvas, and some sculptured panels in wax and one in bronze.”
The Fathers of Contemporary Art
Students explore the aims, influences and practices of British and American Pop Artists and Contemporary Street artists during the second part of their studies. The first part of this unit requires detailed research of artists and their practices, conceptual exploration for the social tribe they want to depict and experimentation with mixed media techniques and processes. Students are encouraged to brainstorm the concept of tribe broadly, choosing their own historical, cultural or contemporary inspiration.
Media selection for this area of study includes acrylic paint, spray paint, stencils, markers and collage.
The second stage of this unit focuses on production processes and application of media. Students are required to keep detailed and annotated records of their own work. An extensive evaluation is submitted at the end of the unit along with the production records and finished artwork.
Through these activities, students explore and apply creative and critical thinking both through their art work and through their documentation of their own studio practices.