Meet the Artists

Students can research three of the artists—seven of whom lived in Wisconsin—in the Uncommon Folk: Traditions in American Art exhibition prior to their visit, using the exhibition website. Create maps and timelines, as a part of the artist report. The following questions can assist in starting. 1) Where was the artist born and when? Include this… Read on

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Uncommon Folk Resources

Internet Resources American Folk Art Museum  Folk Art Society of America Folk Life Archive From Windmills to Whirligigs Possum Trot Roadside Art Online: Environments  Sculpture Background   Literature Resources American Folk Art for Kids by Richard Panchyk  Art from Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter by Kathy Whitehead and Shane W. Evans Fish Eyes by… Read on

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Investigate Traditions

Investigate with your students traditions (ethnic and otherwise) that are celebrated during the run of the feature exhibition. Consider reading one of the children’s stories listed below to begin. American Folk Art for Kids by Richard Panchyk Art from Her Heart: Folk Artist Clementine Hunter by Kathy Whitehead and Shane W. Evans Fish Eyes by… Read on

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Exhibition Walkthrough

The unprecedented selection of paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, textiles, and furniture featured in this exhibition offers unexpected beauty, power, whimsy, and wonder. The authentically American artistic expression identified in the work of folk and self-taught artists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries gave American art its own voice separate from the classical European… Read on

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Background Information

American painter Thomas Sully (1783–1872) had a lifelong love affair with the theatre. Born into a family of actors, he made his debut on the stage at age eleven as a tumbler. The artist ultimately chose painting over performing, but the theatre shaped the artistic imagination of this powerhouse portraitist, and served to distinguish him… Read on

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Historical Connections

Study the relationships between the human forms in the Sully exhibition and the natural worlds in the landscapes from the Museum’s Collection in Gallery 15. What techniques did the artists use to convey ideas? How does the subject matter reflect the activities of the nation at the time? Examine the painting View of Harper’s Ferry… Read on

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Backdrop Building

Create your own architectural setting for George Frederick Cooke in the Role of Richard III (1811–12).  Have students research similar structures built during that time period. Lead a discussion about setting and the significance of architecture. Afterwards have students create their own structures using only masking tape, newspaper, and paper tubes.

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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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Artwork Ambassador

To help students get to know some of the artists and empower them to explore the exhibition, this activity has students serve as “ambassadors,” or representatives, for a work of their choosing in 30 Americans, for when the class visits the exhibition. Start with a conversation about what it means to be an ambassador, or… Read on

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Create a Classroom Magazine

This activity ties to social studies and news projects that you might be working on with your class, inspired by Color Rush: 75 Years of Color Photography in America. A major part of the exhibition focuses on magazines. Artists such as Nickolas Muray, Anton Bruehl, and Paul Outerbridge, Jr., used color to entice people to… Read on

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