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  1. Today was a great reminder of the power of visuals—like others have mentioned the images of mosques and rugs will be my lasting takeaway from the day. The challenge of how to make the study of ancient civilizations relevant to middle school students is ongoing, and using visuals in some of the ways that we heard about today seems to be something to have in the toolbox.

    I have used artifact study in some of my teaching of ancient civilizations (i.e. the standard of Ur for Mesopotamia) and have found them to be excellent ways to get sixth graders to make observations and ask questions before they do some research to see what historians have to say, which they can be too quick to jump to. The use of visuals, particularly of material culture, encourages patience, curiosity, and process. There can be more of a feeling that students are “doing history.”

    The image that Professor Elias shared of Mecca with the overbearing clock tower reminded me of something I read recently in James Loewen’s Teaching What Really Happened: How to Avoid the Tyranny of the Textbook. In that text, he wrote about the concept of chronological ethnocentrism—that we often teach history as though there has been a natural and inevitable progression towards improvement and, in doing so, this can curtail students’ critical thoughts about the past and the present. The Mecca image provides one of those moments where students can question this notion—is what has been done to that site improvement? I would foresee students falling on various sides of the argument (or at least willing to engage in them). Mr. Wallen’s discussion about how the Anatolian rugs demonstrated themes that are strikingly similar to modern art would also seem to provide some interesting fodder against chronological ethnocentrism.

    Professor Elias’ presentation also has me thinking more about the use of architecture to launch inquiry, including looking more at how historic sites are preserved and/or used by those in power today in various ways. Perhaps this would be a way to show the continuance and relevancy of these sites.

  2. Today’s topics and presentations reminded me about the power of images to convey a time and place. Also, I thought about how my students are more responsive and engaged in a world history class when we examine and analyze visual sources and works of architecture. Thinking about how authorship, symbolism, purpose, audience, technology etc. affect the production and consumption of these artifacts provide a deeper historical context for understanding a time period and help to expand historical literacy. For example, in my AP World class, each student has to conduct one virtual field trip during the year that visually presents and explores a significant global monument or location, such as Machu Picchu or the Parthenon, in light of the course themes.

    I hope to incorporate more textiles into my courses this year and utilize some of the information presented by our rug scholar. We usually look at textiles, and other craft forms, through an economic lenses as key imports or exports along the Silk Roads and sea routes. It would be interesting to think more critically about the artistic, social, and technological components of weaving and rug/cloth production.

  3. In Teaching with Art, I saw how the language of architecture was developed in religious buildings. In the lecture, this was predominantly via the mosque, but also in other structures. For instance minarets act like a sign that says, “a mosque is here.” Then we learned how mosque design, like other building, is designed to accommodate climate. In addition, how people react to architecture is a great discussion point for the classroom as it was in the lecture. The pilgrimage site in Mecca has been overshadowed by structures that are counter to the use of the holy site. Making Disneyland-like caricature of Big Ben towering above the site, and turning the spot where Mohammed’s wife lived into a toilet, are shocking examples of reactions to existing architecture. This type of reaction can be talked about in the classroom by students discussing how architecture affects them today. Students can list architecture they see as being denigrated. They can also list buildings they know of that make them curious. Students could be asked, if they had the money, what would they build next to a famous site and would it complement or denigrate it?

    In How Is Art Different Than Life, I was excited by the comparison of Aristotle to ancient Hindu story telling. The concepts of catharsis, pathos, and ethos are still used today in film and literature. Western genre matches with the Rasa-s and Bhava-s of ancient India. It really isn’t surprising after some thought, because human societies have more things in common than are different. This knowledge will benefit my classroom because I can have students discover this in lessons where they explore the Hindu epic tales, like the Ramayana, and compare it to epic stories they know in contemporary western film and literature. Then, also tying it to ancient western thought may show them where contemporary cinema hasn’t deviated from its foundation either. A challenge we can give our students is to write a story that has all the Rasa-s and Bhava-s.

    During The Twelve Gates trip, the woven rug was elevated to high art. We learned history and technique. We also learned how design and processes changed over time. It is interesting how today we take items of material culture that had a purpose and importance in the day to day lives of the users and analyze it for its aesthetic detail and appeal. This may happen because so many of our day to day items have little appeal aesthetically. We are surprised that people throughout history found aesthetics so important in their everyday lives. In addition, we believe our culture is so evolved yet so many have no relationship to making beautifully crafted things by hand. As an art teacher, I can bring this discussion into the lives of my students. When students enter my art classroom for the first time, so many will begrudge being there. I have to sell them on the idea that they may get something out of an art class. I have used many methods to do this, but this is just one more tool I can use. The rugs we saw are spectacular. I think my students will agree. Maybe they will be inspired to learn skills and be part of the long history humans have of making beautiful objects.

  4. I was really impressed by the level of information that can be gotten from the various models of Mosques as presented by Professor Elias. It also struck me when he asked how many of us had seen what the pilgrimage pilgrimage site at Mecca looks like. I had never actually seen it. I knew of it but had not seen it. It was especially impactful to see the sheer numbers of people present during the pilgrimage. It was also very interesting to see the added feature of the new “Big Ben” and it’s implication relative to the telling of time from The Arabic vs. UK perspective.

    On the other hand the presentation from Professor Patel really gave me insight into guiding students in the process of how we derive meaning from art. The discussions on Rasa and Bhava gave me a new insight into discussions that can be had with students on a level in which they can engage their sensibilities to understand what art is making them feel and how it relates to the subject of study we may be engaged in.
    Edited by Jose Ramos on Jul 18 at 3:36pm

  5. My take away from the presentation at Twelve Gates was that using artifacts that the students can engage with makes it possible to extend their experience to a personal level. As Sarah mentioned yesterday students can design a rug or other weave design that reflects their experience and then make connections to how the artistic representations inform the viewer of what was happening during a given time period. By doing this they can use inferencing and critical thinking to learn about Global History using Art.

  6. Carmen Trujillo
    Yesterday Jul 18 at 9:29pm
    Manage Discussion Entry
    First at all, I would like to say today was a great day, with so much food for though and with great people : )

    Professor Elias inspired me to think about the architectural connections Hispanic countries have in common. I would try to figure out how to integrate his impactfull “change in perspective” in my class. Particularly, I will investigate how some spaces and how people use them is so similar and how it connects Spanish speaking countries.

    I personally enjoyed the experience at The Twelve Gates Gallery. Like with everything in life, I felt that when you are given a context and when people speak to you with so much passion, normal things become extraordinary. I just came back from Mexico and I had a similar “sublimation experience” of traditional crafts and arts. I look forward to learning more so I could introduce this new perspective of folk arts in my culture units teaching Spanish.

  7. It seems like art runs not the gamut but rather the grid– with axes of concreteness and abstraction. Splicing politics and practicality with beauty, the [religious] architecture and icons manipulate, entice, intoxicate with aesthetic. In these, qualities I associate more with grandeur than beauty are inextricable from artistry. Regarding the grammar of art/literature… in there is a liminal space profound in its ability to transform, yet profoundly elusive. This exceeds the abstract axis and creates eddies around which stories/art are understood—funny, scary, poignant. Why grief is (may be) the supreme Rasa is something to think about… This reminds me of a book I recently read that examines, among other things, the cost of the lack of personal tragedy– disease, violence, hunger, death, etc.– that punctuated the lives of our ancestors. We share a laugh but share in sorrow. The solitude of pain is (can be) singularly uniting.
    The rug expert inadvertently addressed a question brought up in session 2 regarding the artist’s role in analyzing the art. [The artist is always ahead of the curve] was the response. For the women weavers, however, most were likely never in the race to begin with, a perspective which kind of straddles the lines between concrete and abstract. They made what was practical beautiful in the space between need and desire. They are, in a way, above the art. Or already living in the supreme.
    As far as bringing all of the above to the classroom, I emphasize perspective’s role in shaping understanding–obvious but easily ignored. Now I hope I can bring more perspective to students’ perspectives. Actually, I hope to not just expand their perspectives, but bring life to them so they constantly grow and deepen. A particular film’s metaphors—bridges, trains—don’t just symbolize the latent, but also suggest the obvious, which in itself helps frame the narrative. Today’s conversation made me appreciate literature in a more practical way that I, perhaps in snootiness, missed. It’s not just a tree, but a whole forest.
    The food was also something. I would love to work that into class some way, or a close substitute, but I am not sure how yet. Using ‘taste’ to reach literature / art echoes the physicality of the experience of art– makes me think of the essentialness of that often deemed expendable.

  8. I can’t wait to test out the Rasa theory and framework which Mr. Patel taught us about. There are animation shorts I could use for students to view then break-down into the various components of each Rasa in small group discussion. I’m just thrilled to have an Indian literary element to add depth to my lesson plans!

    On a different note the Twelve Gates Gallery helped get my wheels turning about looms, pile, and color. I love to work with mixed media and many times when supplies are limited one has to get creative, so I could see my art students weaving with non traditional materials and creating all kinds of texture and the color could be additive later. I believe the geometry, repetition and learning roots of organic vs. angular shapes will help my students’ decision making when it comes to creating their own work.

    • Hello Laurie,
      Here’s a suggestion. You could have small wooden frames made, say, 12″ x 12″, and then turn them into ‘looms’ by looping warp threads tightly along one axis across the face and back, and then, show them how to use different colored pipe cleaners as wefting to create a ‘kilim’ type of weaving. They can then create geometric designs, etc. and when they’re done, have a ceremonial ‘cutting off’. Good luck!
      Craig Wallen/Gallery51

  9. Hi everyone. Hope you got home dry and safe. At one point, Professor Elias mentioned the difference between telling a story and showing a story. As I think about our students and their diverse learning styles, I appreciated all the visuals our presenters used today to reinforce their teaching. After all the examples, I felt like I could (with notes) distinguish between Turkish and Persian knots — wow! Many people have already spoken about the impact of the multiple images of Kaaba which provide different perspectives and narratives about the same place.

    In all three presentations, I took away the idea of planning and choice is an important thread that I would want my students to consider. When designing a mosque, what ideas do people consider? What are the emotions that an artist feels through his/her art and with what emotions doe s/he want the audience to possibly react? What intricacies and skills are needed not only for weaving but for any medium or form of work? Perhaps it’s their age (third and fourth grade) or how quickly things can be produced for them, but I would want for them to have a deeper understanding and appreciation of the process for everything around them and for their own learning.

  10. Hello Class!

    Today was a really exciting introduction to viewing art. I am so excited for what the rest of the class holds for us. When my husband and I were in the car together, I could not stop talking about the topics under discussion today.

    Personally, the first morning session was the most powerful. The session challenged us to consider both the voice of the art we are viewing/reading AND the voices left out. I found the images of Mecca astounding. The image up close and the image from afar told radically different stories. The zoomed in image depicted the pilgrims circling the Kaaba and emphasized the size and details of the Kaaba.The image of Mecca from afar depicted a Kaaba that was dwarfed by a condominium tower, shopping mall, and clock center. This was a great exampled of the voice left out! I have taught my students about Mecca and have only used the zoomed up picture of Mecca and the Kaaba. By only offering my students that vision of Mecca, I was neglecting countless other stories, such as consumerism, new development, and religious/political conflicts. I cannot wait to use these images with my students.

    I also found the comparison of architecture fascinating. I loved seeing how easily one could find similarities between Islamic architecture and more Western forms of architecture. Seeing the Armenian mason work and the Roman arches illustrated the evolution of art and how earlier styles influence new styles. I would love to present students with pictures of the architecture and have them compare and contrast the artwork and hypothesize about cultural norms and values during the time period. In my honors tenth grade class, I have the students complete an architecture project that involved researching a famous landmark, writing about the landmark’s history and cultural elements, and building a model of the landmark. I would love to have the students find other landmarks with similar architectural elements and explain the shared similarities.

    Thanks and see everyone tomorrow,