My Dogs Are Barking

The animals in the Uncommon Folk exhibition range from wild to domestic, prehistoric to contemporary, whimsical to sober, and miniature to life-size. Each sculpture effectively captures the essence of the animal. View and discuss the animal sculptures with regard to their characteristics and potential symbolism.             Directions: A mascot is… Read on

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Miss Liberty

Historical subject matter in art can range from transformative events and people to personal histories. Frequently, the most vocal, social, and political artistic commentary has come not from established artists in the mainstream art world, but rather from artists like those represented in Uncommon Folk. The Miss Liberty (ca. 1910) sculpture in the exhibition includes… Read on

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Walk This Way

Walking sticks, or canes, are a common, recognized form. They function as physical supports, status symbols, and prestige items, often with elaborately carved narratives and personal insignia. The walking sticks in this exhibition demonstrate a wide range of designs that can be used to create a simple functional object. Each artist has conveyed his or… Read on

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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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Become Inspired

Using The Woodgatherer by Jules Bastien-Lepage, challenge students to create their own descriptive poem inspired by the painting. Have students: Start by listing colors the artist used in the painting. How would you describe these colors? Write descriptive names for the colors. For example, if one of the colors is green, is it forest green,… Read on

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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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Getting to Know You

The Fancy or Subject Portraits Thomas Sully kept meticulously detailed records that provide an in-depth understanding of the life of a working artist in nineteenth-century America. Rather than representing sitters in contemporary dress, these portraits present their subjects in imaginative costumes that evoke character types or specific characters from literature or the stage. Although nearly… Read on

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Literature Connection

Look through picture books or read chapters from the books featured in portraits in the exhibition (e.g., Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, MacBeth, Merchant of Venice, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Old Curiosity Shop, Robinson Crusoe). Don’t forget to discuss the book and its correlation to the portraits viewed in the exhibition. Ask students… Read on

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Quotables: Respond and React

After viewing the exhibition with your students, use the quotes below by artists represented in 30 Americans as primary sources for a write-around activity. A write-around is a written discussion between four students. Divide your students into groups of four, and project one of the quotes and a work of art by the artist in… 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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