One of our recent posts was a teacher feature from a two-year-old classroom on Alexander Calder. This class did not simply learn about Calder’s life and work and then move on to another topic. Rather, the teachers, Javacia Finney, Stephanie Lopez, and Shawna Williams, came up with lessons to allow their classroom to do an in-depth study on several artists. For each artist, the class looked closely at the work, learned about the artistic techniques used, and then created their own work inspired by the art. Below is a web that gives an overview of the artist lessons and images from the class’ lessons.
To start their artist exploration, the class viewed Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors and Pumpkin at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The two year olds particularly enjoyed adding polka dot stickers to the Obliteration Room. They had so much fun that the Hirshhorn Museum highlighted them adding dots on this video. Back in the classroom, the class made their own papier-mâché pumpkins and added polka dots to a large piece of white paper that was hung up on a wall.
After learning that Impressionist painter Claude Monet took his painting supplies outside to paint beaches, gardens, and ponds in the actual outdoors the class decided that they would also try to paint en plein air. Javacia, Stephanie, and Shawna loaded up a red wagon and brought watercolors outside to paint in the National Museum of Natural History’s Pollinator Garden so their class could be inspired to paint the light, shadows, and flowers in the garden.
The class went to the National Gallery of Art and looked at many Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings, including Self Portrait (1889), where they talked about self-portraits and noticed Van Gogh’s use of broad strokes and thick paint. Following the museum visit, the class mixed the colors yellow, blue, and white using forks instead of paintbrushes.
Next the class learned about Roy Lichenstein’s Pop art. They viewed his Painting with Statue of Liberty as well as Look Mickey at the National Gallery of Art. To imitate Lichenstein’s dot technique, the two-year-olds painted with q-tips, which made different sized dots when pressed on the paper. The class also looked at Lichenstein’s sculptures, such as Brushstroke at the Hirshhorn Museum. Brushstroke was a class favorite because the class could easily see it while walking along the National Mall. Inspired by the contrasting black and white colors in the sculpture, the two year olds glued stripes of black paper onto white paper.
For their study of Henri Matisse, the class learned about his technique, painting with scissors, when they visited examples at the National Gallery of Art. They worked on their own cutting skills by using scissors to cut lines into paper.
As highlighted in their Teacher Feature, the class also learned about Alexander Calder. After learning about Calder’s mobiles, they began exploring his large sculptures and his playful animal sculptures. The class was given metal wire, a material that Calder himself used, to create their own sculpture or mobile.
To conclude the unit and show off all the artwork, the class held an art exhibition. They carefully displayed all the artwork and made labels. Then they invited their families and friends into their classroom to see their art exhibition.