Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Georgia O'Keeffe: Art and Literacy

It all started with our unit on The Moon. Near the end of the unit, we focused on poetry about the moon, from the 1800's to the current age of space exploration. 

We read about a lot of changes--in technology, attitude, and thinking!

We really looked at how ideas about the moon were expressed differently before and after actual space travel. Georgia O'Keeffe was just one person who believed in the power and draw of the Moon's mystery, especially her Ladder to the Moon. (click the link to see how we started with observing and wondering.) 

We read two biographies about her, and also listened to another biography about her on Brainpop. We learned about and discussed several of her popular pieces of work, and what made her style of painting so unique.

Here are some favorite facts from the kids:
Did you know she loved to look at and paint objects super close-up?
Did you know she painted with her emotions, not just what she saw?
Did you know she liked to paint skulls with flowers? And they're not creepy?
Did you know she lived in New York and New Mexico?
Did you know she painted until she was very very old?
Did you know she had a ladder leaning against her house in New Mexico?
Did you know that she loved nature?

As a culminating activity we practiced comparing and contrasting by creating a replica of O'Keeffe's Ladder to the Moon. There were some stipulations, though. 
1) They only had 10 minutes.
2) They could only use hands and construction paper.  No scissors. (crayons were also used if there was time)

As you can see, their interpretations of O'Keeffe's work were similar but also very different. And the kids enjoyed the challenge of their art task. The focus remained on writing, but the art happened between the brainstorming and the final written piece for comparing and contrasting. 
As usual, students taped or glued their brainstorming notes and graphic organizers on the back of their art. 

Ultimately, we experienced firsthand how the act of creating can help us with our thinking, writing, and understanding. 

How do YOU integrate art and literacy? Who are some of your favorite artists and pieces of artwork?

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