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.
Oleg Holosiy, ‘24 Specific Plots and their Kangaroo’
by Amanda Koonlaba
Oleg Holosiy (1965–1993) was a Ukrainian artist associated with the Transavantgarde and Neo-Expressionism art movements. Representative of the postmodern generation of artists in the Ukraine, he was part of the New Ukrainian Wave, which arose during the late Soviet period of the 1960s through the 1980s. Following are ideas for integrating Oleg Holosiy’s 24 Specific Plots and their Kangaroo (1990) with other subjects.
1. LOOKING. This is a super engaging work of art because of the curious and bizarre use of color and imagery. Students will have an array of initial reactions when they first see it. They will immediately want to start blurting out what they think about it. So, before beginning this lesson, be prepared that students will need a good bit of time to view and analyze the work. Also, let them know before you ever start that they will have time to talk about it in a short while, but first they absolutely must keep all of their thoughts inside their brains! In other words, tell them not to talk until you’ve given them the cue.
For the initial looking sequence, have students look at the work without talking for about a full minute. Use a visible countdown timer so that students can tell how much time is left. Then, remove the image from view and have them write every word they can think of about the work on a sheet of paper. Give them about two minutes to do this and require them to remain silent.
Next, assign the students to work in small groups or in pairs. Give them several minutes to discuss the work. Encourage them to use the list of words they generated to guide their discussions. Monitor to ensure students stay on task. Finally, have them share their generated lists of words with their group. Students should cross out any words that appear on more than one person’s paper. Create a class chart of words from each group. As they share with the whole group the words that were not crossed off, see how many unique words the class can generate that do not appear on more than one list.
2. MORE LOOKING. On a subsequent day from the initial looking activity, have students get into small groups again (either the same or new ones). Assign each group a row of the artwork to analyze. If there are more than five groups, assign the same row as many times as needed. Instruct the groups to try to figure out how the images are related. They should look for similarities, patterns, and differences. They will come up with a lot of off-the-wall answers about the relationship between the images, and that is okay! In fact, this can be encouraged for thinking outside the box.
Finally, have the students try to create a story out of the images in their row. They should treat each frame as a specific plot point in the story. They can use whatever creative licenses they need to transition from one frame to the next. Repeat this activity with columns.
3. AND MORE LOOKING. The students will probably be fascinated by the two seemingly unrelated spaces in the grid of the artwork. Avoid going too deeply into an analysis of those until this last looking activity. At this point, tell the students the name of the artwork and have them talk to each other about these two spaces specifically. Any reactions the students have or speculations they make about these two spaces will be appropriate no matter how bizarre. After these three looking activities, students should be able to easily and excitedly complete the next activities.
They will come up with a lot of
off-the-wall answers about the relationship
between the images, and that is okay!
4. ART MAKING AND CREATIVE WRITING. Have students use a digital camera (iPads, smart phones, tablets, etc.) and photograph each other reenacting each frame of the artwork. Make sure they know to capture the subtleties and nuances that make each one different. They will have to get very creative to recreate the two odd frames. For instance, they may have to use a rolled up shirt or a stuffed bear in place of the kangaroo.
Print these in black and white on a grid that fits onto one sheet of paper. Next, have them choose a limited color palette (three or four colors only) and add color on top of their photos. Markers, crayons or colored pencils work well. They can turn their stuffed bear or rolled shirt into a kangaroo during this step of the process.
Then, have the students reflect back on the rows/columns activity and the word list activity from before as inspiration for creating a story out of the images of themselves. They can use some of the ideas from those earlier activities as they initially write this story on paper in the form of one-liners for each frame.
After they have an idea written for each frame, have them begin to weave it together with transitions and details. A lot of these frames are quite similar. So, remind them to focus on the differences and similarities as needed. Also, tell them to use dialogue or quotations in their writing. This will help them with the similar frames. Carry this writing throughout the entire writing process. Display it in a hallway or digitally with the images of the students.
Students can share by reading their works to partners or to the class. Look for cohesiveness between the images and the writing. If students have images that match their stories and stories that make sense, they’ve done well with this project. Keep in mind, though, that bizarre and off-the-wall stories should be expected because of the very nature of the artwork and art-making process. Bizarre and off-the-wall stories are fun to read and can still make sense!
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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.