“Art Works” is a monthly column that provides bits of know-how and reminders of ways to assure the success of your art program. In the coming year, look for advice and suggestions related to learning about, responding to and making art, integrating art into the curriculum, displaying student work, reaching out to the community, and more.–B.H. our students have taken a look at a number of artworks—-sculptures, paintings, buildings, murals, masks and other art forms—and have learned who made them, in what country the artist lived and when they were made. They may even remember in which museum a painting now resides. But, do your students have any idea as to why these artworks were created? Why have countless numbers of people all over the world in all cultures throughout the ages created art—even though they may not have called it “art”? What purposes has art served and continues to serve in diverse situations and times? Why did people long ago—and contemporary artists—collect implements, tools, materials and pigments, and put them together to make visual statements in two and/or three dimensions? Surely our remote ancestors who lived in rather primitive situations must have struggled to procure the necessities of food and shelter in order to survive, let alone respond to the need to create things—things that have become lasting works of art that tell us about the lives, customs and beliefs of times long gone. To engage students in thinking about why an artwork was created, display reproductions, art books and other sources of artworks. Then, after some discussion, you may list the purposes described below and ask students to match them with an artwork. Once in the habit of pondering these ideas, time spent with art histor y and aesthetics—whether in museums or classrooms—will be more meaningful, challenging and longer-lasting for students. Let’s take a look at some of the many functions and purposes of artwork—the many reasons art has been created and continues to be produced, while noting 16 Y . when we Wonder Why! by Barbara Herberholz some of these purposes overlap. What reasons have compelled people and continue to inspire artists to make art? Art serves society by telling us about events in history, religion, myths and literature. Art not only 1 Artworks are also used in religious ceremonies, as well as sometimes being utilized to celebrate, honor and/or control natural forces by asking for protection. The cave 3 describes the character, events and venues involved, but endeavors to convince, inspire and persuade people— sometimes eliciting their feelings in regard to religious, political, national or social causes. For example, Washington Crossing the Delaware, by Emanuel Leutze, records a historic event that took place during the Revolutionary War and honors those brave soldiers, eliciting the viewers’ patriotic responses. Picasso’s Guernica broadcast to the world the horrors of war following the brutal and devastating bombing of a small town in Spain. Michelangelo’s Pieta shows the viewer a sculpture of a seated Mary as she looks down upon the figure of Jesus, inspiring religious feelings in Christians. Dorothea Lange’s back-and-white photographs showing the plight of struggling farm workers in California during the 1930s brought about legislation and change at the national level. An artwork can serve as a memorial or a tribute to honor a person, place, idea or event. It may have been dwellers had a reason for making those marvelous images they viewed in flickering firelight. American Indian tribes, as well as people in Africa and numerous other cultures, have used masks, headpieces and costumes in their religious ceremonies and festivals. Think of the colorful papel picado (cut-paper flags) from Mexico, Australian rain sticks, Polish Easter eggs and Egyptian scarabs. Beautifully designed candelabras, menorahs and chalices are often a part of religious rituals. Henri Matisse designed magnificent robes and banners for a chapel in France. Artworks record images—realistically or abstractly—showing viewers how people, places and objects have looked. For example, Francisco 4 2 de Goya’s Don Manuel Osorio takes us back over 200 years to show us how this little boy was dressed and what his pets looked like. Wealthy people as well as royalty enlisted artists to produce such portraits in the years before the camera was invented, while Roy Lichtenstein’s Femme au Chapeau depicts an abstract portrait of a woman, as does Paul Klee’s balloon-like Head of a Man. Art sometimes evokes strong emotions—the way an artist feels about people, nature, cities, the sea, etc. For example, Winslow Homer not created to serve as a symbol or an idea. Think of the Statue of Liberty, a highly recognizable symbol that promotes the ideals of freedom as it welcomes people to America. The giant portraits sculpted at Mount Rushmore honor four presidents. We are all familiar with the sculpture that shows us the hoisting of the American flag during WWII. Washington D.C. provides the venue for a number of memorials and tributes to American heroes, as do cities and towns all over the country. 5 only showed the power and movement of the ocean, but also painted the boys’ exuberant spirits in Breezing Up, while the Currier and Ives print, Whale Fishery, speaks to the imminent danger the men faced as they used their harpoons amid the treacherous waves. Van Gogh see WORKS on page 54 januar y 2010 x www.ar tsandactivities.com
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