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Art is at the Core / April 2019 | Arts & Activities
Mar 2019

Art is at the Core / April 2019

Art is at the Core / April 2019

Art is at the Core offers tips on integrating for visual art teachers and teachers of other subjects. Arts-integrated lessons offer students the opportunity to meet objectives in art disciplines and other subjects. Arts integration strengthens traditional core classes, but does not replace art-specific courses.

Pat Lipsky, ‘Sandwich’
by Amanda Koonlaba

Pat Lipsky (b. 1941) is a contemporary American artist who grew up in New York City. She achieved great acclaim after attending both Cornell University and the prestigious Hunter College. Her work has been associated with Lyrical Abstraction, Geometric Abstraction and Color Field Painting. Throughout her career she has explored nuances in color palettes. Below are ideas for integrating Pat Lipsky’s Sandwich, 1969, with other subjects.

1. DESCRIBE AND DRAW. Have students find a partner and select who will be the “describer” and who will be the “drawer.” Give the “describer” a printed copy of the work with the title at the bottom. Tell the “describers” to save the title for the very last step. In other words, they should not tell their partner, the “drawer,” the name of the artwork until the final step.

Let the students know that when you say to start they will have four minutes to work. Tell them that you will give them a 15-second warning at which time they can say the name of the artwork. The “describer” will look at the artwork and describe it to their partner, the “drawer,” who will use crayons and pencils to try to recreate the piece based solely on the description. Encourage students to use artful language in their descriptions.

At the end of the four minutes, tell the “describers” to show the “drawers” the actual artwork by Lipsky. Have them discuss the description given, the interpretation for the drawing, and why the artwork might have been named “Sandwich.” Of course, as in all things, encourage the students to be constructive rather than critical with their discussion as they explain to each other why they chose to describe it and draw it the way they did.

2. ART THINKING ON THE WALL. On a subsequent day from the Describe and Draw activity, have students do a deep dive into the artwork by incorporating a Visual Thinking Strategy. This variation on the See, Think, Wonder strategy is a great way to have the students spend more time looking at and analyzing the work. Tell them to view the work without talking for 30 seconds. Then, have them speak with a partner using this conversational language:

Student 1: I see______________________________________.

Student 2: I heard you say______________________________.

That makes me think_________________________.

Student 1: I heard you say_______________________________

That makes me wonder________________________.

Then, have the students repeat by looking again for 30 seconds. This time, have the students switch who speaks first. That way, each student gets to be the one who “sees,” who “thinks,” and who “wonders.” Repeat this sequence at least two more times.

Finally, have students select four or five words or short phrases from their discussions to write on sticky notes. So, each pair of students will have four or five notes. Place a print of the artwork on the wall and have the students put their notes around it.

3. PREDICTING. Once students have become super familiar with the artwork by participating in the thinking strategies and discussions, have them begin the art-making process by squirting eight drops of paint in a vertical alignment on a sheet of tagboard. This will look like eight dots of paint, one above the other in a line. Make sure they place the drops about a half-inch from each other.

Next, have the students make predictions about what will happen when the colors that are near each other touch. Will a new color be formed? If so, what will it be? If not, what is likely to happen instead?

4. ART-MAKING. Cut file folders into small rectangles about the size of a credit card. Show the students how to drag the card across the paper so that two colors at a time are smeared. Model how to make wavy lines as you do this.

Talk to the students about only smearing the paint once. They should not be running their cards across the paint in the same spot multiple times. Move down the column of paint drops without switching cards. Paint from the first marks made will still be on the card and will mix with the other colors. The paint marks will look similar to the ones in Lipsky’s work.

After students have completed these steps, have them revisit the predictions they made to analyze how those played out once the process was complete. This is a great segue into making predictions about a text as well as making predictions about science experiments. 

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Arts & Activities Contributing Editor, Amanda Koonlaba (NBCT), is a Curriculum Specialist and Teaching Artist from Saltillo, Mississippi.

The activities described in “Art is at the Core” may encompass Common Core State Standards for Math, the English Language Arts Anchor Standards of Writing, Speaking and Listening, and the Next Generation Science Standards Performance Based Expectations of Science and Engineering Practices for Analyzing and Interpreting Data. They also encompass the National Arts Standards processes of Creating and Responding. Please refer to particular grade-level standards for specifics.—A.K.


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