Sew What?

Quilts are rich with tradition and are often associated with particular communities or parts of the country, such as Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Quilts have a variety of established patterns, but their design accommodates the addition of personal elements so that quilters can create quilts that tell personal stories and which reflect their individual tastes.  … Read on

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Culture and Experience

Encourage students to compare the traditions of other ethnicities with their own culture and experience. What customs and rituals are similar, and which are different? Do any of the traditions overlap with their own? Teach respect for different ideas and people. Talk about the elements that are common to everyone. For example, people from different… Read on

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Creating Community

A lesson plan involving folk art provides a great opportunity to explore the many aspects of community—and to strengthen school-community connections. The prompts below will facilitate a class discussion as you introduce concepts around folk art to your students. Explore one or all of the prompts in preparation for your visit to the Museum—and for… Read on

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Practice Looking

Visit the Collections page on the Museum’s website for high-resolution images. Select 2–3 portraits and use discussion questions similar to what students may encounter on a tour. Without sharing any information about the painting, give students time to look closely at the work of art. Encourage them to explore every area of the image. After… Read on

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Strike a Pose

Have students pose like the sitter in the portrait. Ask students to consider what it feels like to pose like the sitter, wear his or her clothes, and be in the setting of the portrait. Have students write a postcard to a friend describing their portrait experience.

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Plot It

Theatrical Portraits The majority of Sully’s portrait clients were merchants, ministers, bankers, doctors, military figures, and naturally, socialites—with a few notable exceptions, such as presidents and royalty. Theatricality implies drama, performance, and a heightened sense of activity. In some of Sully’s grandest full-length portraits, his figures are composed as if they were onstage, playing to… Read on

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Compare and Contrast

Make connections to contemporary works within the Museum’s Collection. Visit Gallery 20, where you will find works identified as New Realism. Ask students to look closely at the objects, and to select a piece that they find most interesting. How does the work compare to the portraits in the Sully exhibition? How does this work… Read on

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Backdrop Design

Collect reproductions of your favorite band or team, and then cut out the individuals and arrange them so that they form a rough triangle. Adhere each to paper and cut around the edges of the figures. Now, using your imagination, create three completely different backdrops for your group.

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The Great Debate

Historians continue to debate the merits of the decisions and actions taken by President Andrew Jackson during his two terms in office. Living between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, Jackson played a central role in virtually all the controversial issues of his time—Indian removal, economic reform, states’ rights, and slavery. Overshadowed in popular… Read on

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Art Debate: Art vs. Advertising

Can art be advertising? Can advertising be art? What is the relationship between the two? As color photography grew in popularity, artists themselves were thinking about this very question, as seen in Color Rush: 75 Years of Color Photography in America. They produced photographs for magazines, or were paid by companies like Kodak to take… Read on

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