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Blog Category: Teaching

December 6, 2013

Teaching with Artstor: The wondrous abyss of puppetry

Daniel Meader | Marionette Head and Torso | Image and data from Detroit Institute of Arts

Daniel Meader | Marionette Head and Torso | Image and data from Detroit Institute of Arts

By Mark Branner, University of Hawaii, Manoa

Nigerian | Puppet: Ekon Society | Seattle Art Museum; seattleartmuseum.org

Nigerian | Puppet: Ekon Society | Seattle Art Museum; seattleartmuseum.org

I have the great privilege of teaching an introductory college-level course on puppetry. Even though it is an introductory course, it is actually classified as an upper division course, which means that I generally have juniors and seniors straggling in, looking for an easy “basket-weaving” escape. There are even sniggers from some of the participants when I ask them why they are in the class. This is all pretty understandable. Just put the words together: “College. Puppets.” Already it feels like a bad Saturday Night Live sketch. No, we’re not saving the world (or destroying it) through biomedical engineering. We’re not planning a manned mission to Venus. We’re studying puppets, for crying out loud. What’s the earthly value in that?

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October 28, 2013

Introducing the Teaching with Artstor discussion list

Raphael | School of Athens; detail | circa 1510-1512 | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com

Raphael | School of Athens; detail | circa 1510-1512 | Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com

We are happy to introduce the Teaching with Artstor discussion list, a forum where you can share ideas about teaching and where your questions can be addressed. Teachers and academics working at all levels of education are invited to contribute ideas and brainstorm ways to address content, find the perfect images on your topic, and present them in the classroom and lecture hall. In addition to Artstor-related topics, we encourage you to share other websites and resources you find helpful in your teaching practice.

Whether you are a seasoned specialist, a new faculty member or an overwhelmed teaching assistant, we want to hear from you! To join, simply send a blank email to subscribe-teaching-with-artstor@lyris.artstor.org. We encourage you to forward this invitation to other faculty at your institution.

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August 29, 2013

Teaching with Artstor: We Are What We Ate (and Drank)

Wine Making (Vine Shoots, Putti Gathering Grapes and Male Bust; Grape-gathering Cupids); detail | c. 350 CE | Chiesa di S. Costanza (Rome, Italy) | Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. ; artres.com ; scalarchives.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Wine Making (Vine Shoots, Putti Gathering Grapes and Male Bust; Grape-gathering Cupids); detail | c. 350 CE | Chiesa di S. Costanza (Rome, Italy) | Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. ; artres.com ; scalarchives.com | (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence / ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Gregory K. Martin, Ph.D.
Upper School Director, La Jolla Country Day School

In a compelling study of Western United States history, Patricia Nelson Limerick quotes Nannie Alderson, a former Virginian who moved to Montana in 1883. Alderson, looking back on a unique feature of her experience, recollected that there was on the frontier an abundance of cans: “Everyone in the country lived out of cans […] and you would see a great heap of them outside every little shack” (“Closing the Frontier and Opening Western History”).

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November 20, 2012

Teaching with Artstor: A history of hat-making

French | Hat (Top); ca. 1820 | The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

By Rachel Pollock, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Artstor helps me surmount a primary difficulty in teaching historical hat-making to my graduate students in theatrical costume production: diverse visual examples of our topics.

In millinery class, we consider not only styles and materials from which hats are made, but also their history—the provenance and significance of a given style, and depictions of it in art and advertising of the period. We analyze its cultural place of origin, and discuss ways in which its meaning might be explored or subverted in the context of stage performance and costume. I am fortunate to have access to theatrical costume storage and my university’s modest archive of antique clothing artifacts for practical tangible examples, but the bounds of those collections are finite.

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August 8, 2012

Teaching with Artstor: The Great Mosque of Djenné and West African architecture

James Conlon | The Great Mosque of Djenne, South façade, exterior | image: 2008 | Djenne, Mali | for commercial use or publication, please contact: Media Center for Art History, Columbia University. Email: mediacenter at columbia dot

James Conlon | The Great Mosque of Djenne, South façade, exterior | image: 2008 | Djenne, Mali | for commercial use or publication, please contact: Media Center for Art History, Columbia University. Email: mediacenter at columbia dot edu

Mrs. Michelle Apotsos
Stanford University
Doctoral candidate Art History/Architectural History

As a graduate student at Tufts University, I was once given the opportunity to give a lecture to a class of architectural history students on West African architectural form for the purpose of unsettling some common notions that inform Western conceptions of the built environment. I decided to present a case study of the Djenné mosque in Mali, West Africa as an example of an architectural tradition that utilizes distinctive structures, materials, and iconographies to resonate with its cultural context. The experience itself not only revealed to me the inherent challenges of teaching architectural studies in Africa, but also the necessity of having high-quality visual tools in order to recreate a convincing three-dimensional spatial narrative. Thus began my ongoing love affair with the Artstor Digital Library.

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June 4, 2012

Speaking for women’s suffrage through a quilt

On June 4, 1919, U.S. Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing women the right to vote, and sent it to the states for ratification. To celebrate this momentous anniversary, we are featuring an essay by Stacy C. Hollander, senior curator and director of exhibitions at the American Folk Art Museum, on an anonymous 19th-century artist’s “Crazy” quilt (i.e., a quilt with no repeating motifs) and its message about women’s suffrage.

Artist unidentified; initialed “J.F.R.” | Cleveland-Hendricks Crazy Quilt, Cleveland-Hendricks Crazy Quilt | American Folk Art Museum, folkartmuseum.org

The constitutional amendment giving the vote to American women was not ratified until 1920. Therefore, the unidentified maker of this quilt voiced her political sentiments in one of the only socially acceptable means available to her in the late nineteenth century. Using the idiom of the Crazy quilt, she constructed a strong statement of Democratic sympathies in a highly fashionable format.

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September 13, 2011

Teaching with Artstor: Trajan’s Column

By Erin Giffin, University Of Washington

[The images in this post were selected to accompany the final exercise for the course “Introduction to Western Art — Ancient” (Art History 201) offered during autumn quarter 2010. This 300-student survey class balanced lectures by Professor Margaret Laird with meetings in smaller sections supervised by graduate student Teaching Assistants, one of whom was Ms. Giffin.]

Giovanni Battista Mercati, Colonna Traiana

Artstor was central to this assignment’s success. Professor Laird developed an exercise to teach independent research skills and the creative analysis of evidence. It challenged students to work in pairs to develop a 5-minute, illustrated oral presentation exploring how the Column of Trajan in Rome presented the enemy Dacians. Students were free to focus on any aspect of interest to them and to use any of the various art-historical methods they had learned in the course. Laird created an Image Group composed of forty-four slides showing episodes from the first Dacian War arranged in the order in which they appear on the column. Photographs of casts of the column (scanned from UCSD slides) clarified where each scene began and ended. Brief descriptions added to the “Instructor notes” tab explained the action in each scene. These slides introduced high-resolution color photographs of the same scenes from the column itself (made by Shmuel Magal for Sites and Photos). Students could consider figures across scenes or closely study individual sections in exquisite detail using the “zoom” feature.

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August 18, 2011

Teaching with Artstor: Race, Identity, and Experience in American Art

By Dr. Jennifer Zarro, Tyler School of Art, Temple University

John Lewis Krimmel, Pepper-Pot: A Scene in the Philadelphia Market, 1811. This image was provided by Philadelphia Museum of Art

Artstor makes possible what we know to be the best teaching practices in higher education. Using Artstor in my class, Race, Identity, and Experience in American Art, allows for multiple possibilities for teaching and learning. It is an especially important resource for this course which has unlimited approaches and no textbook. This class often confronts material that is new or uncomfortable for participants and implementing creative and supportive assignments is important for fostering open dialogue and deep learning opportunities.

We know that lifelong learning occurs when people engage in a personal way about something they find beautiful and interesting. Further, and most ideally, deep learning occurs when students decide their own course of study. Ken Bain tell us that the best learning environment is one in which students create authentic tasks that allow them to feel a sense of control over their education. Using Artstor supports these claims in several ways. An assignment that stems from these ideas is to have students curate their own image-group exhibitions in Artstor that they present to the class. Critiques and questions follow and students explain the ideas and materials that led to their choices. Students can create unique visual stories about an aspect of our course content – whiteness, immigration, identity self-fashioning – and share their story with diverse others. Research projects may also stem from this image group. Being a curator lets students be in charge of their learning in a creative and scholarly way. It allows for alternate ways to teach and learn art history that moves away from simply showing slides in a darkened room and expecting memorization of the material.

Caste Painting, 18c. Image and original data provided by The University of Texas at Austin, College of Fine Arts.
Caste Painting, 18c. Image and original data provided by The University of Texas at Austin, College of Fine Arts.
Caste Painting, 18c. Image and original data provided by The University of Texas at Austin, College of Fine Arts.
John Lewis Krimmel, Pepper-Pot: A Scene in the Philadelphia Market, 1811. This image was provided by Philadelphia Museum of Art
John Lewis Krimmel, Pepper-Pot: A Scene in the Philadelphia Market, Detail, 1811. This image was provided by Philadelphia Museum of Art
John Lewis Krimmel, Pepper-Pot: A Scene in the Philadelphia Market, Detail, 1811. This image was provided by Philadelphia Museum of Art
Jacob A Riis, Home of an Italian ragpicker, 1888-1889. Museum of the City of New York.

Another successful assignment is to have students work in groups much like a curatorial team in a museum. The team considers which image group or individual artwork should be part of an exhibition based on one of the themes of the course – 1970s Feminism or Chicano identity and culture, for example. Students grapple with ideas and history, consider together the importance of certain works, research items from an image group in order to support their decisions, and learn about works of art and artists all while engaging in vital interpersonal exchanges with peers. The finished product is an image group exhibition that we post to our online learning site. The images illustrate some of the major themes of my course and how American identity is complex, varied, and ultimately changeable.

The examples mentioned above allow students to take control of their learning in ways that foster deeper involvement with artworks and cultural ideas. These projects let students do the work of creating course materials. They allow students to interact with peers and in groups, give them opportunities to think critically and to find something beautiful, foster debate and discussion, and may even lead to shifts in thinking. In the best case scenario, students bring these important ways of being into the real world.

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