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Arts & Activities - Page 30
eaching elementary-level art in the Pacific Northwest makes it natural for me to develop a lesson based on Native American art of the area. The designs of the Northwest Indians can sometimes be a bit too sophisticated for the students to grasp, however, and it can be frustrating when developing such a project. We have used worksheets for drawing ovoids, S-cur ves and U-shapes, and used the smart board as a class to come up with combinations. The fifth-graders understand the limited use of color and the creativity of the stylized, flattened three-dimensional animals, fish or birds. This project had been on the back burner for quite some time. Not knowing what their end result was going to be led to an exciting final day for the students. I refined it each year, hoping Part of the success of this project was in limiting the colors and having students move quickly that this time they would get it. when using the paints. In doing so, there was a level of spontaneity. Unfor tunately, the students usually re-create what they see from my personal collection by ar tist Jessie Hummingbird, a Cherokee Indian. His of native ar t I share with them, with no true creative designs were bold, color ful, both geometric and amorproblem solving of their own. phous in shape, and his lines were varied. It was clear to me that this was the solution for my Native American ar t project dilemma. THE SOLUTION Over a Labor Day weekend, my husband Back in the classroom, I shared four of the note cards and I traveled aboard Amtrak to Glacier National Park. At a trading post there, I came across some note cards with students and a website featuring Hummingbird’s artworks. As they carefully studied them, I wrote on the board what students identified in the art. I then took those key words and related them to the elements and principles of design, which are posted on my classroom wall—something I do with every project. ON THE FIRST DAY, students used felt markers on copier paper to draw a stylized human form, with Hummingbird’s art as inspiration. With markers there is no erasing, so I reminded them to take their time. We reviewed the proportions of the human body, and the importance of drawing large so the areas for color would be of adequate size, much like a stained-glass window. Three students at a time came to a painting table I had set up and selected T Inspired by 30 Native American Art by Susie B. Jensen januar y 2013 • 80 YEARS x www.ar tsandactivities.com