How are you using Prism.K12 strategies and inspiration from Man Ray to build arts-integrated lessons in your classroom?

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How are you using Prism.K12 strategies and inspiration from Man Ray to build arts-integrated lessons in your classroom?

Man Ray was a complex artist, but he had an innovative artistic process. Teachers, share with your community how you're using inspiration from Man Ray's process and works of art to build arts-integrated, "STEAM"-based lessons or units in your classroom. What Prism.K12 strategies did you use to brainstorm your lesson ideas? What works of art from Man Ray provoked you most? If you are teaching with Man Ray, describe your unit overview. What subject areas are you weaving together using Prism.K12, and what do you expect the outcomes to be?

Man Ray as a classroom focus

Engineering can come in many forms.  From the mild to wild, all the things that we create must go through a process of design and construction.  When I was asked to participate in a Man Ray inspired project I saw natural connections between the technology of today (3D printing) and the physical models of the past.  My students would take their mild creations to wild destinations.

As I imagined a connection for middle school students, I had the idea to combine a superhero into this Man Ray world.  Shapes, colors, layers in Photoshop and a background story for the character to describe how they arrived at this scene. 

In our class project, students must master multiple layers of software to complete the assignment.  They must first use a 3D drawing program to begin drawing a figure that will later be printed on a 3D printer.  This character will come to life over the course of the next few weeks.  They will have sentence starters and topics to complete regarding past experiences of their character, analysis of their powers and the empathy they feel towards others. 

The scene is placed in a well described landscape.  They might be familiar landscapes or distant planets.  This scene is then drawn using a program called Bryce and the scene is saved as a bmp image. 

Once the figures are completed, they are printed out and photographed by themselves. The backgrounds and shapes are photographed and then added to a background world bmp image.

What strikes me about this project are the various layers that students have to get through, and the unifying purpose set forward by the Man Ray project.  If I had asked them to do such a complex assignment without the Man Ray theme, I am not sure they would have accepted a challenge that big.  Instead, they jumped into it head first and learned the skills necessary to be successful.    

Prism.k12 Strategies in the Technology Education classroom

When Cassidy and I designed the Unit for his Technology Education students that he describes above, we used several PrismK12 strategies to brainstorm our ideas. We wanted to develop a process that would connect students with the process Man Ray used in some of his work.  We looked specifically at his process of taking pictures and then using these photographs to create new images or paintings based on these initial photographs.  To help students Identify with the process he used, we looked specifically at Man Ray's Photograph "Untitled" (Mannequin with Cone and Sphere, 1926) and his painting "Aline et Valcour", 1950.  Students were asked to compare these two images so they could begin to see and understand how one image evolved into the other.  Students are currently photographing their super heroes printed off the 3-d printer (our 2015 Manenequins).  They are then creating a still life using pieces of an old (but beautiful) wooden geometric math model we found at our school.  We also have some wood mannequins that look similar to the one Man Ray used.  Then students are photographing their still-life set up.  Discussing the technology available to us today, we have asked students to synthesize what they have learned from Man Ray's work and his process and create a new image combining the digital image they created in Bryce, the photograph of their hero and the photograph of their still-life.  Inspiration and ideas for these images are to be drawn from some later paintings by Man Ray such as The Beautiful Time and their journaling as described above.  I can't wait to see what the students come up with.

Mathematics and Visual Art Integrated Lesson

When the Kenmore team was in the early stages of planning the integrated lessons, I visited The Phillips to see Man Ray’s art.  I was having difficulty wrapping my head around integrating mathematics with the Human Equations series because the mathematics of the geometric objects is not part of middle school mathematics.  I also was having difficulty visualizing three dimensional figures in two dimensional pictures, so I wanted to see the art in person.  As I wandered through the galleries devoted to Man Ray’s work, I stumbled upon the mobile Obstruction, and his directions for its construction.   Obstruction is a mobile constructed from 63 wooden coat hangers.  The mobile is a concrete representation of the powers of 2 (2n).  Moreover, the sketch of the instructions for assembling Obstruction and depiction of row zero perfectly illustrates the concept that any number to the power of zero is 1.  (Row zero has one hanger) 

Once I had my inspiration, I designed a lesson with the Prism rays “discover” and “identify” in mind. The objective for the lesson is for student to use analogous colors to construct a mobile inspired by Man Ray’s Obstruction and make a connection to the expression 2n.  Thus, art element in the lesson would focus on color-harmonious chromatic relationships.  Students are launched into an exploration of the math and a picture of Man Ray’s directions and asked to make connections between them.

The art objective for the lesson was executed in two mediums:  chenille stems and color washed caped coat hangers.  Chenille stem are used to construct a small mobile making a connection to the mathematics it represents.  On a larger scale, students work as a class to color wash caped hangers to construct a mobile that is installed at Kenmore.  Students who were not part of either project are challenged to find mathematical and color patterns in the mobiles. 

My expected outcome is that students will have a visual model of powers of two, an understanding that any number raised to the power of zero is one and the range of color they used to create the mobiles would leave a last mental image of the mathematical concept.

Man Ray and Process

In the Art Classroom at Kenmore we are connecting to Man Ray mainly through his process:  Sculpture -- Painting -- Photography.  After studying various color field painters and visiting The Phillips Collection to see the works in person, students have been tasked with painting and applying tissue paper to paper lanterns to communicate a particular mood or capture a particular spirit.  At first, students felt like the color field artists were all the same, but after close annalysis (PRISM * COMPARE), the subtile differences started to become quite aparent.  As the students paint and apply colored tissue to their lanterns I have been giving input by suggesting artists' styles as they go (PRISM * EMPATHIZE).  For instance, "Have you considered a Helen Frankenthaler wash in this area?"  or  "How would Paul Jenkins have gotten the paint to move if his surface was a sphere?"  Most recently this week, I have been asking students to focus in on the mood they are trying to convey (PRISM * EXPRESS).  How can the shapes and colors you choose influence the mood you are setting for your sculpture?  Some students are finishing up with their sculptures and beginning to make photographs.  In this case I have called students' attention to the Man Ray piece in the exhibit where the lamp shade has been stretched out of proportion and then photographed in high contrast chiaroscuro style.  Man Ray's initial sculpture is completely transformed by the photograph.  Kenmore artists are similarly being asked to re-define their sculpture with the camera as a tool (PRYSM * SYNTHESIZE).

Rachel (not verified)
All together now!

So Prism K-12 works as a bridge or ladder to achieve cohesive understanding of the creative process as a whole. Most importantly the Prism k-12 technique utilizes the critical thinking process in students toward questions that do not have black and white answers.  In what I have observed from Man Rays art was based as much on perspective as it was around process. During class discussing I asked the class what part of his work they noticed first, after receiving a handful of answers, we discussed how if we were to all see the exact same thing its possible to be interpreted numerous ways.  This hits home the point of empathy which can often times be overlooked in a lesson.
The most useful Man Ray art to show to the class was the Revolving Doors series. It really tied in the color studies we were doing in class and also tied in nicely with artist such as Morris Louis, Helen Frankenthaler, and Han’s Hofmann.  One of the most prevalent subjects that is woven into this unit is science specifically, psychology.  We discuss how particular colors trigger specific emotions.  The outcome of this unit is a very beautiful lantern that explores personal expression as well as an appreciation and since of respect for their peers.