Today’s morning visit to blog land left me thinking about the impact of art on our lives. Thank you, Steve, at Shadows and Light .
His visit to a Georgia O’Keefe exhibition and his reminiscences of following her work reminded me of putting up calendar prints of her art in my classroom.
I taught English, but I made a practice of posting art prints and posters around my classroom over the years. Once in a while I’d use them as a jumping off point for writing. For instance, I had a modern art poster that consisted of only circles and lines in primary colors. One of my favorite assignments was when we read The Great Gatsby and I’d task the kids with describing how that poster represented the book and the characters in it. If they'd actually done the reading, they'd write about the divisions between the characters, the boundaries of class and money, or even simply the iconic light on the dock across the bay from Gatsby.
I also hung art around the room for me. If I was having a bad day, I could look over those inattentive heads, take a cleansing breath, and lose myself for ten seconds in water lilies at Giverny or out on that sailboat in Homer’s Breezing Up.
The other motivation was more altruistic. I still can see the print of Van Gogh’s bedroom that always hung in my room when I was a little girl. Now when I come across it as an adult, I always travel back to that yellow bedroom in Virginia where I woke up to the picture of that bed and that chair so long ago.
My hope was that as the kids stared blankly back at me, their minds wandering, the pictures I’d hung above the blackboard would be imprinted in their drifting thoughts. After 180 days of facing that image it would become theirs, too.
I do love the way you think.ReplyDelete
Art has been a gift in my life. Nearly as much as reading. And, at the end of the day, writers are another kind of artist.
I did exactly the same thing in my classroom over the years, for much the same reasons! I always figured if they weren't paying attention to me I'd give them something worthwhile to stare at.ReplyDelete
I enjoyed the link to Steve's blog.
Exactly my thinking, Cynthia. I figured at least they'd come away with something.Delete
And yes, Steve's an interesting guy to follow.
I'm sure that your students were left with some ideas from the art around your classroom. I did the same thing. I had many posters that I changed regularly. Yes, sometimes they were used for writing topics. When I retired I took one day to spread the posters around the room for people to help themselves. Most of it disappeared.ReplyDelete
What a good idea, Red. I wish I had thought of that when I retired.Delete
We spend all those years accumulating stuff - how great to pass it on to someone else to enjoy.
I have some strong memories of pictures from long-ago classrooms, because I was fortunate to have teachers like you. It's true that I can see a certain picture and it brings memories alive. :-)ReplyDelete
I don't remember any pictures hanging in any of my classrooms. How neat that you had Van Gogh's bedroom hanging in your bedroom when you were young. This is my first time seeing it.ReplyDelete
We had geographical maps and math times tables charts hanging in our classroom, also a picture of Queen Elizabeth. nothing that would qualify as art :(ReplyDelete
Thanks for the shout-out! I think it was a wonderful idea to hang art in your room -- as you said, not only for yourself, but for the kids who were undoubtedly absorbing it. I took a Georgia O'Keeffe calendar with me to Morocco when I moved there in 1992 for the Peace Corps, and those prints hung in my room for two years. I like to think maybe they made an impression on some of the local Moroccans who might not have seen them before. Art crosses boundaries and builds bridges!ReplyDelete