This semester in my Curriculum Design and Planning class, we had to chose an artist or artists as the focus for our curriculum unit. The curriculum unit consists of 5 lessons: History & Culture, Visual Literacy, Skill Building, Art Making and Art Criticism. My unit was written for high school-aged students, but it can be adapted to accommodate all ages, abilities and needs.
Structuring the unit in this way made me realize how important it is to create a fully comprehensive lesson. This was new to me, but also reiterated the importance of having art education in ALL schools. It’s so incredibly enriching and expands not only my students mind, but my mind while creating it. We can learn so much about history, astethics, human nature and psychology in studying art.
For my curriculum unit I decided to chose Andy Goldsworthy as my main focus artist, as well as Christo and Jeanne-Claude for the Art Making lesson. Land Art has become increasingly interesting to me, as it combines the two things I love the most: art and the outdoors. I also believe that Land Artists really understand the concept of mindfulness, and how to honor the present moment. I wanted this to be the main goal for the unit, as a lot of Land Art is temporary.
Starting with the History & Culture lesson, I open with a background about Andy Goldsworthy and the intention behind his work. Then, I talk about the history and motivation behind the work of Land Artists from the 1960s/70s and what pushed them to create work outside of the gallery setting. Lastly, I included a clip from Andres Amador, a local San Francisco artist who does installations on the sand. I wanted to share this last so that I could leave my students with something current and relatable.
With the Visual Literacy lesson, I focus on the rhythm that exists within these works of art. In doing so, the lesson focuses on building vocabulary from the elements of art and principles of design, and ends with an activity of having students draw on and trace these works of art while listening to music.
In the Skill Building lesson we focus on learning about photography and what knowledge and skills they need to take a successful photograph. Without knowledge of that, it would be hard to complete this lesson as most Land Artists use photography to document their work.
Finally, for the Art Making lesson, my students will be creating their own Land Art installation and using photography to document it. They will have the choice of either using natural materials from nature, or integrating another material, like I did with the fabric. I wanted to do the project myself so that I could share the process and final result with my students. The process was pretty lengthy and required me to extended the length of the lesson.
I ended up creating this fabric piece outdoors, inspired by many artists, including Christo and Jeanne Claude. For this lesson the students have to choose a memory that is important or sacred to them, and use that as inspiration for the project. I chose going to the beach every summer in Redondo Beach, and the peace and calm that the ocean continues to bring to my life while living in a chaotic and busy place like San Francisco.
Please comment with any questions or feedback, you can also send me a message via the Contact link if you’d like to connect or hear more about my approach to art education.