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Blog Category: Teaching

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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July 28, 2011

Teaching with Artstor: Re-historicizing Contemporary Pacific Island Art

The Artstor Blog is the place to find new interdisciplinary teaching ideas with our new series: Teaching with Artstor. This week we feature Re-historicizing Contemporary Pacific Island Art” by Marion Cadora, a graduate student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

My research in the Department of Art and Art History at University of Hawai`i looks at contemporary Pacific Island artists who are using art as a tool to rewrite history through indigenous perspectives.

John La Farge, Girls Carrying a Canoe, Vaiala in Samoa, 1891. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Josiah Martin, Samoa type de chef de Samoa/Cliche J.Martin, ca. 1900-1919. George Eastman House
Tonga; Ha'apai Archipelago, Female Figure, Early 19th century. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Edward Steichen, Portrait of Hawaiian model Kaaloalakini, ca. 1937. George Eastman House
possibly Korewori, Female Figure, early to mid-20th century. Image and original data provided by Saint Louis Art Museum

I am interested in compositions of the “body,” both male and female, and from multiple time periods and perspectives. However, understanding ways in which “bodies” are imagined is incredibly complex. One scholar suggests that masculinities “have been formed in relation to, as much as resistance against, foreign hegemonic models and through such histories, hybrid hegemonies have emerged” (Jolly, 2008). That in mind, it is true that Oceanic bodies are best studied relationally and historically, between pasts, presents, and futures.  How then can we engage with and visualize Oceanic bodies within the wider frame of historiography? Interestingly, Artstor has been a powerful tool to assist with such inquiries.

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April 10, 2010

Teaching with Artstor: Proportion and perspective for K-12

Yona Friedman, Spatial City, project Perspective, 1958-59

Yona Friedman, Spatial City, project Perspective, 1958-59. © 2007 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Proportion and Perspective
Steven Wills, Coordinator, Wachovia Education Resource Center, Philadelphia Museum of Art 

This image group is meant to supplement a lesson in a middle-school math class that deals with measurement and proportion — usually in the context of geometry. There are several purposes of the image group, specifically:

  • to help visual learners see how the concepts discussed in class can be applied;
  • to help answer the question: “Why do we have to learn this?” (A frequent question in a math class); and
  • to help show the connections between math and science and math and art, thus helping to build an interdisciplinary approach to teaching.
Constantinople, Christ the Saviour in Chora, Vault; Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple; detail of Joachim, Anne, Mary, High Priest Zacharias, and the Holy of Holies, c. 1310-21. Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. http://www.artres.com/
Catena (Vincenzo di Biagio), The Adoration of the Shepherds, probably after 1520. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Diagram Demonstrating Filippo Brunelleschi’s Perspective Technique from a Lost Painting of the Battistero di San Giovanni. Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.; artres.com; scalarchives.com; (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.
Albrecht Altdorfer, Saint Sebastian Altar; Christ before Caiphas, c. 1509-1516. Image and original data provided by Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives/ART RESOURCE, N.Y. http://www.artres.com/
Albrecht Durer, Madonna with the Monkey, circa 1498
Albrecht Durer, Madonna with the Monkey, circa 1498. The Illustrated Bartsch

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