Curriculum Units use groups of objects from the Museum’s collection to achieve broad learning objectives, such as improved writing skills, understanding of art concepts, or how to visit an art museum. Some units include examples of student work; all have been created by or tested with teachers in the classroom setting.

Know your Copyrights!

Museum images may be used for classroom teaching only. They may not be re-published on web-pages or incorporated into print documents except for direct use by students in the classroom.

1. Lesson Detail: Non-Objective Art

This unit focuses on Abstract Expressionism and Color Field styles of non-objective art. It will teach students the historical and cultural influences within each of the art styles and will increase student understanding of why and how artists created non-objective art. As students are introduced to each art style, they will have the opportunity to plan and develop an idea for an artwork based on the factual information they have learned concerning each of the styles. All student work for this unit is done in a sketchbook.

Understanding Non-Objective Art

Students are introduced to the concept of non-objective art through use of an art textbook and related Introduction PowerPoint that explores the work of artist Mark Rothko. Note that teachers should tailor the powerpoint by adding a desired image by Mark Rothko, reference the Museum’s online gallery image, or use another non-objective image. Students write an essay that assesses Rothko’s use of the elements of art and principles of design to generate meaning. Students also seek out and sketch potential non-objective imagery using a viewfinder or magnifying glass to focus on detail.
Assessment includes teacher review of sketchbooks and an Essay Rubric.

Critical Analysis of Non-Objective Paintings

Using a Museum Visit PowerPoint, students prepare for a Museum visit by discussing museum etiquette and setting up sketchbook pages to capture information on-site. During the 1-hour docent tour focusing on 6 works, students complete spreads in their sketchbooks. Following the tour students choose one work to sketch and analyze in-depth for approximately 20 minutes. Upon return to the classroom, students reflect upon the difference between seeing an authentic object and a virtual object.

Creating a Non-Objective Painting

Students discover the thought process behind creating non-objective paintings by brainstorming and planning production of a painting, identifying dominant ideas, influences, elements, principles and color schemes. Using acrylics on gessoed watercolor paper, students complete a non-objective work. All students complete an Evaluation Rubric to submit with final product, and participate in oral critiques of other’s work. For sample student outcomes, see Resources below.

Resources

This unit incorporates images from the Museum Online Gallery as preparation for a visit to the Museum. Click here to access these images and samples of student work accomplished in the pilot phase.

2. Lesson Detail: Art, Science & Technology

This unit explores the connections between art and science through observation of artworks and creation of a mobile. Click on links to download .pdfs of unit components, worksheets and rubrics.

How Artists Use Science and Technology

Students will identify and analyze artists who integrate technology and science into their artworks, focusing on Alexander Calder’s sculptural use of levels. Students are first introduced to new vocabulary and complete a graphic organizer Calder using images from the Museum's online gallery (see Resources below). Students also visit online the National Gallery of Art site to explore an exhibition of Alexander Calder's work and complete an activity.

Students complete the Fibonacci worksheet. Students also will identify and comprehend appropriate museum procedures/behaviors. The teacher may use images of the Museum to introduce the place and protocols for visit.

Looking at Artists Who Use Science and Technology

Students visit the Museum for a docent-guided tour lasting approximately 1 hour to view works on view demonstrating an integration of science and art principles. During the tour, students will complete portions of the Museum worksheet. Specific works may vary depending on Museum installations. After the tour, students have approximately ?-hour to complete the final portion of the worksheet.

Mobiles Influenced by Alexander Calder

Students share sketches and reflect on Museum experiences. Students design and create a sculpture influenced by Alexander Calder’s kinetic mobiles. Students complete the Assessment rubric.

Resources

This unit incorporates images from the Museum's Online Gallery as preparation for a visit to the Museum

For other images that may be useful, visit the Modern and Contemporary Online Gallery

How Artists Use Science and Technology

Students will identify and analyze artists who integrate technology and science into their artworks, focusing on Alexander Calder’s sculptural use of levels. Students are first introduced to new vocabulary and complete a graphic organizer Calder using images from the Museum's online gallery (see Resources below). Students also visit online the National Gallery of Art site to explore an exhibition of Alexander Calder's work and complete an activity.

Students complete the Fibonacci worksheet. Students also will identify and comprehend appropriate museum procedures/behaviors. The teacher may use images of the Museum to introduce the place and protocols for visit.

Looking at Artists Who Use Science and Technology

Students visit the Museum for a docent-guided tour lasting approximately 1 hour to view works on view demonstrating an integration of science and art principles. During the tour, students will complete portions of the Museum worksheet. Specific works may vary depending on Museum installations. After the tour, students have approximately ?-hour to complete the final portion of the worksheet.

Mobiles Influenced by Alexander Calder

Students share sketches and reflect on Museum experiences. Students design and create a sculpture influenced by Alexander Calder’s kinetic mobiles. Students complete the Assessment rubric.

Resources

This unit incorporates images from the Museum's Online Gallery as preparation for a visit to the Museum

For other images that may be useful, visit the Modern and Contemporary Online Gallery.

3. Lesson Detail: Exploring Contemporary Sculpture

This unit introduces students to a range of contemporary sculpture styles while developing critical thinking and looking skills to identify differences among realistic, abstract, and non-objective imagery. Through discussion, group work, and writing, students build core skills in language and communication. Assessments of content acquisition include both written work and the production of an abstract metal sculpture.

What’s the Difference?

Using a teacher-generated PowerPoint using images from the Museum’s collection, students learn how to identify the differences among artistic approaches to visual content along a continuum from realistic to non-objective. Note: use of the PowerPoint requires internet access to link to images. By identifying subject matter and the artist’s use of color, line, shape and texture, students can assess if the subject is represented in a naturalistic/realistic way or if its physical appearance has been altered for aesthetic purpose. If no subject is immediately identifiable, students may debate whether the image is abstract or entirely non-objective (no subject).

Discussion is reinforced through group work in which students sort small images (one set / table of students) along the realistic-non-objective continuum. Comments made during this activity may be logged by students on a Good Answers sheet. A subsequent lesson furthers discussion through participation in a teacher-generated card game created using a standard deck of cards.

Exploring Sculpture at the Museum

A visit to the Museum focuses discussion of the realism – non-objective continuum on contemporary sculpture in both the galleries and sculpture garden. Students participate in a 50-minute docent-led tour that selects from a list of contemporary sculpture on view. Docents lead students in considering art works by asking open-ended questions that mirror those used in the card game. Students then visit the Sculpture Garden to complete an Assessment Activity that documents understanding of how to look at and make judgments about art objects.

Making an Abstract Sculpture

Students identify a subject and/or mood/feeling for their abstract sculpture. Using wire, tooling foil, and found objects or cut shapes, students create a free-standing or hanging mobile. Works must use physical and visual balance along with the elements of art to convey the chosen subject/mood/feeling. Students assess work through a written “artist statement” that mirrors questions discussed during the Museum visit.

Resources

This unit incorporates images from the Museum's Online Gallery as preparation for a visit to the Museum

For other images that may be useful, visit the Modern and Contemporary Online Gallery

4. Lesson Detail: Questionable Realities: James Casebere

Students discuss the elements and principles of art utilized by photographers to create aesthetically pleasing images. While viewing photographic images by fine art photographers and photo journalists, classroom discussion encourages students to explore the contrast between horrifying subject matter and beautiful images. Students then focus on a single work, Nevisian Underground #1 by James Casebere to speculate as to what they think may have happened in the environment depicted. Elements and Principles will be discussed, as will be symbolism and metaphor. To demonstrate understanding of these concepts students create an environment using campus or off-campus architectural structures as the basis for original photographic compositions.

Beautiful Images/Horrific Events

Students practice evaluating photographic images in terms of the Principles of Design and the Elements of Art. To introduce the topic, the teacher asks students to briefly describe a still photo of a major event seen in the media that made an impression. A teacher-assembled powerpoint (images at teacher’s discretion) offers students a sampling of images by a variety of photographers from the 19th century to the present capturing cityscapes or the aftermath of disasters (e.g. Hurricane Katrina).

Using the Principles and Elements Sheet as a prompt, students discuss the images in small groups or as a class. Following this preparation, students select one image about which to write a one-paragraph media caption (5 sentences minimum), in which the subject matter is identified, as well as the objects and their meanings.

Questionable Realities in the Museum

Students visit the Museum for a docent tour to view and discuss Casebere’s Nevisian Underground #1 and other similar examples of photography as available. Possible choices include work by Gregory Crewdson, Thomas Struth, or Tacita Dean.* Students make notes on Casebere’s work in preparation for writing a visual analysis. They also reflect on the difference between seeing a work as a digital image and as an authentic object. Teachers may share further information about James Casebere before or after the Museum visit as desired by referencing articles found on the artist’s site. Upon return to the classroom students write their Visual Analysis, which is assessed using the Analysis Assessment Rubric.

*Note that photographic images are displayed for limited periods of time to protect them; call the Museum's Education Department to verify what images are currently on view.

Photo Project

Students use knowledge about Elements, Principles, metaphor and symbolism gathered through analysis to create original photographs using traditional or digital processes. Using the campus environment or other architectural setting, students compose an image that suggests an event that did not occur, or a setting that is not what it appears to be. Quality of light, props, or people may all be used to convey an idea. Emphasis is placed on demonstrated and deliberate use of Principles and Elements. Images are critiqued by the group and subject to individual teacher assessment rubrics.

Resources

This unit incorporates images from the Museum's Online Gallery as preparation for a visit to the Museum

For other images that may be useful, visit the Modern and Contemporary Online Gallery

5. Teacher Guide: Cézanne & American Modernism

Target Grade Levels: 4-12 Course: Geography, writing elements, visual arts Time Recommended: 1 class period (55 minutes), plus optional Museum visit Originator: Phoenix Art Museum Education Department

Cézanne and American Modernism is the first exhibition to explore how American artists learned from the French painter Paul Cézanne (1839-1906). This guide includes background information on the exhibition’s themes, a lesson plan, images and resources. Here’s the link to the teaching guide: Cezanne Teaching Guide