Making Personal Connections to Create Meaningful Artwork

My school district provides for one day of pre-planning wherein teachers get to focus solely on their subject area.  This year, the arts teachers in my district were treated to guest speak Olivia Gude. Gude is a winner of the Lowenfeld Award from the NAEA, which pretty much marks her as one of the best in our field.  She had so much to say; and I had (have) so much to learn.  The most vital part of what she had to share was that it is critical we create lessons that are thought-provoking and relevant to students.

Student beginning his collage

She showed us a few exemplars of one of her units wherein students view images from The Great Migration series by Jacob Lawrence and then create their own artwork inspired by one of their most meaningful memories. Her lesson was really for high school students, but I made a few tweaks to suit it for my middle school students.

I began by asking students to complete this worksheet (inspired by ideas of Olivia Gude), which helped them to streamline their thought process:
you can download the planning sheet here

Students then drew their most important memory of 18 x 24 paper.
I modeled how to cut apart their memories and trace onto painted paper
Students made a collage of their memory
Students wrote a reflection about their artwork (and incorporated Common Core vocabulary)

Here are a few exemplars from my students:
“This is my brother in his green room. My brother’s favorite color is green and I helped him paint his room green. This is my favorite memory because it made my brother very happy.”

“This is the plan I took from New York to Georgia when I moved here. It was a very sad day. It is an important memory because this plane ride changed my life.”

“My favorite memory is my grandmother’s 100th birthday party. My whole family and everyone I love was there. It is an important memory because I don’t know anyone else who has lived to be so old.”

“My favorite memory is the first time I went to the beach and saw the Ocean. I was so excited I couldn’t believe I was finally seeing the ocean.”

“This is my favorite memory because this is the day I met my brother for the first time. It was my brother’s 11th birthday and I was so excited to meet him.”

3 thoughts on “Making Personal Connections to Create Meaningful Artwork”

  1. First of all- how awesome that you got to have Gude come out to be a speaker!! I love her writing. Second of all- these collages with the paste paper are fabulous! The paper cutting is so simple, yet the images feel complex thanks to the colors and textures.

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