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8th Grade Art

Blog Type:  Arts Middle School
Date Posted:  Thursday, February 18, 2021


Art 8 spent the fall months studying photography and composition. We began with a study of documentary photography of the Black Panther Movement (from the SF MOMA collection) by asking the questions: What stories do photographs tell? How do various ways of looking at photographs tell us stories, and what is our lasting perception of those stories based on our mental impression from photographs? We observed and discussed these iconic photos from a specific lens: Personal/Narrative - Aesthetic - HIstorical. We expanded our understanding of the medium by studying how to use light and composition techniques effectively. With the work of 20th century photographers Henri Cartier Bresson, Robert Frank and Cindy Sherman, we explored the effects of composition and the subjects and themes used by these photographers-- stark or ironic critiques of popular culture, perceptions of identity and self, race, class and gender, portraits of America and France, geometric compositions and surrealism.  The unit culminated in student photo essays on a theme of choice. Here is a sampling of their work made into a movie for TEDx: Grade 8 Photographers Teens in Quarantine

Art 8 has just finished illustrations painted in ink and watercolor that illustrate a scene from their nouvelle fantastique stories each student wrote in French class. The unit's concepts and skills included proportional figure drawing , creation of space using foreground, midground and background, use of rhythm and gradation, differentiation between in line hierarchy (thin/thick), and the use of contrast and other dramatic effects to emphasize the fantastical nature of a story.  We used Edward Gorey's The Mummy's Head and other illustrators' artwork for inspiration.

In our next unit starting this week, students will research contemporary Black American artists exploring the Black American experience as a way to "bring attention to important issues that news outlines omit, celebrate history and heroes that brought us to our present moment and illuminate conversations around bias, race and representation."  This research will inspire site specific projects centered around community and voice. As our starting point we will be using the Murals of Oakland and Art 21 documentaries: Portraying the Black American Experience.

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