This lesson is inspired by Grant Wood’s American Gothic.
Students had to conceive an idea for the composition. I had planned to have them draw thumbnail sketches, as well as lists of what props they would need – but after showing my accelerated Studio in Art kids the ones done by my students in 2012 and 2013 via my school web-site, they just knew what they were going to do. It was the craziest thing and really phenomenal the way they all collaborated with one another.
Each student planned the day for their picture – we had two weeks before Christmas break and it was a tight schedule for the twelve of them. They all brought their costumes, props and their A games with them, lol!
I just loved how they were able to count on each other and how responsible everyone was for their respective part in both their own work and that of their friend(s). Models allowed the artist to direct them. The poses replicated the ones in Wood’s painting with the person on the right looking straight into the camera and the other one gazing in the distance. I placed the school’s green screen against a wall for the photo shoots, printed the pictures then cut and pasted them to foamboard.
They created the backgrounds using a variety of mixed-media including tissue and decorative papers, toothpicks, beads, glitter and more. The border was done in metallic paint to act as a frame. A picture from the internet chosen to convey a theme was selected as reference and they attacked the canvas panels with vigor. It was so exciting to see them work. There was so much confidence amidst the chaos of all the materials.
Once the background was finished and dry (everything attached with Mod-Podge and/or hot glue), we placed 3-D Os on the back of the foamboard and poppped the pics on top. The result – twelve very different, very cool mixed-media pieces that are currently on display in a glass case in the atrium of Chittenango Middle School in Chittenango, New York.