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By Mary Erickson, Ph.D., with Arizona art teacher Marissa Vidrio
Mixing It Up: Building an Identity is a a three-unit lesson plan designed in conjunction with the exhibition of the same title at the Gallery at Tempe Center for the Arts.
- Theme in Life: Every culture builds its identity from shared activities, beliefs and values.
- Theme in Art: Artworks can help us understand the activities, beliefs and values of our own and others’ cultures.
Lessons approach the themes through three key questions.
1. Why do artists choose to use bright and muted colors in their work?
2. Why do artists sometimes choose printmaking when they want to expose their ideas to more people?
3. What activities, beliefs and values from their own cultures do artists sometimes show in their art?
Many people who live in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area are newcomers and were born elsewhere. Others have ancestors who have lived here for many decades or even centuries. Yet many people have developed overlapping cultural identities based on shared activities, beliefs and values. Throughout its 100-year history, the state of Arizona has become famous for what is called The Four C’s: climate, copper, cattle and citrus. Recently, some people have suggested adding a fifth “C” for computers because of the high amount of technology industry and research in the area.
People often build cultural identities from broad concerns, like Arizona’s Four C’s, and also from activities, beliefs and values that are closer to home. Many people relate strongly to the special aspects of a community such as local sports teams, celebrities, special foods, schools or landscape. For example, if you were to tell someone from New York City that you were from Arizona, you might have a conversation about the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team or the beauty of Saguaro cacti, and he or she might talk about the New York Yankees and where to get the best slice of pizza.
Each of us is unique, but we are also a member of several larger groups that help give us a sense of who we are and from where we came.
The unit developers and the Tempe Center for the Arts recognize that there are a number of terms such as Hispanic, Chicana/o and Latina/o that people prefer to use to describe themselves. For the purposes of this unit, the term Mexican American will be used to describe the artists represented in the Mixing It Up exhibition.
One: Who Am I?
Resources and supplies
Who am I? PowerPoint
OPTIONAL: What Is Culture PowerPoint
OPTIONAL: What is Culture lesson plan
OPTIONAL: Questor Questions about Frank Ybarra’s Art (pdf)
OPTIONAL: Samples of artworks or other artifacts that reflect your own, your students’ or community’s cultural identities.
Two: Exploring Themes and Styles at the Tempe Center for the Arts
Loteria Description (pdf)
Loteria Games Cards (pdf)
Three: Parts of Me
Resources and Supplies
Introduction to Printmaking PowerPoint
Bright and Muted Colors PowerPoint
Step-By-Step Printmaking PowerPoint
OPTIONAL: Mixing It Up Exhibition Preview PowerPoint
styrofoam food trays
non-water-based glue (such as “Tacky Glue”)
sticks for spreading glue
assorted colors of tempera paint or water-based
9-inch x 10-inch acrylic sheets for palettes
assorted colors of construction paper, including both bright and pastel, neutral, or earth-tone colors
old t-shirts to protect students’ clothing
old newspapers to protect tables
Previsit Lesson = 30-60 minutes
TCA Visit Lesson = Field Trip
Postvisit Lesson = 270-400 minutes (Times are estimates and may vary based on age groups and prior art experiences.)