Friday, September 7, 2012

Learning through Art with Jacob Lawrence

Our art classroom discussions since the start of school have been about art, how we all interact, and how artists represent the variety of relationships we have through art. As part of the focus, we used Jacob Lawrence's piece, The Builders, as a springboard for conversation about collaboration.

In a press release issued for an art exhibition of the Builders series in 2011, DC Moore Gallery wrote: "Jacob Lawrence: Builders features paintings, drawings, and prints that communicate the artist’s belief in the possibility of building a better world through skill, ingenuity, hard work, and collaboration. For the last three decades of his life, Lawrence (1917-2000) consistently pursued the Builders theme, creating a sequence of vibrant modernist images that highlight his pervasive humanist vision. The Builders concept first appeared in Lawrence’s work in the mid-1940s, but assumed greater importance in the late 1960s and soon became a major focus. His subjects were carpenters, cabinetmakers, bricklayers, and construction workers in a variety of workaday and family situations. Overall, they came to symbolize some of his larger ideas about American culture, hope, persistence, and the shared responsibility for transforming society, inspired, as he once said, by his 'own observations of the human condition.'"

Jacob Lawrence wrote: "I like the symbolism. … I think of it as man’s aspiration, as a constructive tool— man building. "

We, in turn, think about his work and discuss what it means to build a collaborative environment where we are safe to create and exchange ideas. That is what the Fine Arts Studio aims to be.

As an extension of the conversation, and to learn more about Jacob Lawrence and his work, take a look at this Artsology online art game, comparing two images of Lawrence's Builders. The website is a great resource about art history, as well. Click here: Artsology Jacob Lawrence art game

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