Back to Aigai, the 1st capital of the ancient Macedonians is always a pleasure!
Archaeological excavations have unveiled extraordinary riches of the past, a prosperous city enclosed by defensive walls, with an acropolis in the north-east foothills of the Pierian mountains. They discovered impressive temples, monumental public buildings, an imposing palatial complex, unique in its architectural characteristics, a theatre, and several “Macedonian” Tombs, the most important of which is the Tomb of King Philip II, father of Alexander the Great.
Pinewood Grade 5 students visited the Tomb of Philip II, one of the largest of all “Macedonian” Tombs found in Greece. The monument was constructed of stone and consists of two vaulted rooms, the main burial chamber and the antechamber. The grandiose, imposing facade is adorned with marble double doors, two half-columns and an extraordinary painted frieze immortalizing a hunt of lions, bears, antelopes and boars in a semi-forested landscape.
Next to Philip’s Tomb is the plundered cist tomb of Persephone famous for its wall painting. Among the figures of the Fates and of Demeter seated on the “mirthless rock” is a depiction of the abduction of Persephone by the god of the underworld, Hades. The originality of execution, the power of conception and restraint of colouring all indicate an artist of great talent. Could the artist be Theban Nicomachus, famous for his rendering of the female figure?
“Back to Aigai” students enjoyed a day of myths, glorious history, fine arts, golden treasures, and … serene countryside, sunshine and autumn bliss. They were so smart but most importantly so kind and full of respect…They were attentive and engaged, they contributed so much to the successful outcome of our trip!
The Myth of Theseus, the Minotaur, Dionysus and Ariadne has it all! love, adventure, an impossible task, betrayal, and sacrifice. The adventure starts in the city of Troezene, where Theseus is born, and unfolds by travelling us to Athens, the island of Crete, the island of Naxos, and back to Athens again. My Grade 6 Host Country Studies students LOVE the Myth and the art, so, I prepared a PowerPoint Activity for them…
Instructions on what to do:
Research: Find 5 Artworks presenting the mythological princess Ariadne. Artworks can be paintings, sculptures, etc. How to do research for Artworks on Ariadne: Go to Google –Ariadne Myth – Pictures.
Research-Writing: Do not forget that the correct identification for each artwork you use is mandatory. (Correct identification should include: Name of artist, the title of the artwork, date, medium, where the artwork is. For example, Titian, Bacchus and Ariadne, 1522-23, oil on canvas, the National Gallery, London)
CREATIVE! Prepare an appealing PowerPoint!!!
Inspired by the François Vase is a Grade 7 Activity my students enjoy doing!
François Vase is exhibited at the National Museum of Archaeology in Florence. It is “a large black-figure krater, a large vase in Ancient Greece believed to be used for watering down wine, from c. 570 BC. The design is fascinating and, if one looks carefully, you will find both the signature of the potter, Ergotimos and the painter, Kleitias. This krater is named the “François Vase” after the archaeologist who found it in 1844. ” https://www.visitflorence.com/florence-museums/maf-archeological-museum.html
The François Vase Activity
Instructions on what to do: During class, students are introduced to ancient Greek pottery, and more specifically the importance and characteristics of the François Vase. This Activity is based on the classroom lectures, student research on the subject, and ultimately student creativity and imagination. So, ……
Step 1. Careful Observation – Students are asked to focus on the work of art projected on the screen. They are asked to look carefully and describe everything they see. The process should start with broad, open-ended questions like
What do you notice when you first look at the Minoan Pot? What else do you notice?
Questions should become more and more specific, such as:
Describe the pot’s shape. Where are its handles? Where is the wider part of the pot? Where is the narrower part? Is it symmetrical or asymmetrical? How is the pot decorated? What colours do you see? What patterns?
Step 2. Analysis – Students are asked to answer simple analytic questions that will deepen their understanding of the Ancient Greek Geometric Style Pot on view.
What might the figures on the top register of the pot be doing? How are the figures represented? Who might the figure on the top register and the centre of the vase be? Is it male or female? How is this figure different from the figures on the other side? What does the information the artist provided suggest about the identity of this figure? What might this pot have been used for? What clues can you get from its decoration? After each response, students are advised to always ask, “How do I know?” or “How can I tell?” so that they will look to the work of art for visual evidence to support their answers.
Step 3. Research – The teacher is asked to provide information on all discussed Ancient Greek Pots. Students should be given time to read and further research each pot. At the end of the research period, the teacher should be available to answer questions and further enhance student query.
The Ancient Greek Geometric Period (1100-800 BC) is characterized by monumental grave markers in the form of large vases decorated with geometricized patterns and motifs, funerary representations and burial rituals. These Geometric period vases are among the finest examples of ancient Greek pottery. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/14.130.14/
The François Vase is a unique example of ancient Greek pottery. An Attic Volute Krater, decorated in the black-figure style, dated about 570/560 BC, the François Vase was signed by its makers, “Ergotimos mepoiesen” and “Kleitias megraphsen”, meaning “Ergotimos made me” and “Kleitias painted me”. The vase presents over 200 mythological figures, many identified by inscriptions, representing a number of mythological stories. https://www.florenceinferno.com/the-francois-vase/
Made in Athens around 515 BC, the Euphronios Krater is a unique work of art. Signed by both the potter and the painter, the Krater is decorated with a Trojan War scene: the death of Sarpedon, son of Zeus. https://smarthistory.org/euphronios-krater/
Step 4. Interpretation – How to put together the Research, Analysis, and Observation students have done so far and reach a better understanding of the art object in focus. The truth is that there are no outright or wrong answers. The work students have done so far helps them better understand, and thus interpret the meaning of a work of art.
Some basic interpretation questions for this object might be: What does the size and elaborate decoration with 200 figures, many with identifying inscriptions, representing a number of mythological themes, tell us about the ways in which the ancient Greeks valued mythology? The Vase bears the inscriptions “Ergotimos mepoiesen” and “Kleitias megraphsen”, meaning “Ergotimos made me” and “Kleitias painted me”. What do the inscriptions tell us about the role of artists/craftsmen during antiquity?
Step 5. Critical Assessment and Response – It’s time to JUDGE how successful the work of art in focus is! This is an important part of the Learning Process and students are asked to answer the provided questions supporting their opinions based on their work is done so far. “Critical assessment involves questions of value.” For example:
Do you think this amphora is successful and well done? Why or why not? Do you like this work of art? How does it relate to your life and your culture?
For a PowerPoint on Learning from Ancient Greek Pottery… Click HERE!
For a student-friendly Activity Worksheet on Learning from Ancient Greek Pottery... Click HERE!
How the West met the East and how Impressionism was influenced by Japanese
My Summative Projects, I call them RWAP (Writing Research Art Project), ask students to focus on 4 parts: 1. Write a well thought Project Title 2. Provide colored copies of at least 2 artworks related to their Project, correctly identified. For the correct identification, I expect them to write the name of the artist (if known), the title of the work, date, medium, and current location, 3. Prepare the required Writing Assignment, 4. Do the Art Assignment which is open to student imagination and creativity.
For the Impressionism and Japonism RWAP Project students are asked to Investigate Impressionism and Japonism, and how the first was influenced by the second. Students are asked to focus on Monet’s painting La Japonaise exhibited in 1876, and attracting a lot of attention, of his wife Camille, dressed in a fine kimono, in front of a background of Japanese Uchiwe fans.
Japonism is the word used to describe the influence of Japanese art on European art and culture. Astounded by the great influence of Japanese art, the French journalist Philippe Burty wrote an article to describe strong European interest for Japanese artworks. The article was published in 1876 and the word Japonism became instantly popular. Students are asked to study the following articles:
The Writing Assignment for this RWAP on Impressionism and Japonism is to write about: A. A paragraph on fans in Japanese culture and art, the folding fan or the Uchiwa type, B. Why were fans so popular then? Was their use simply practical? How else were fans used by both men and women? Students can write about the use of fans in Japanese or European culture.
For student Art Assignment I can only suggest… decorate the pages of your RWAP Sketchbook, like Monet, with Uchiwa fans a or dazzle us with something glitzy like the Edo Screen. Most important… Be imaginative, Creative, Original!!!
How two great Roman statues can be used to discuss the Roman Government. “Augustus of Primaporta VS Aulus Matellus”is a Project my spirited Grade 6 students enjoy doing for their Social Studies Roman Unit.
A lot of my Projects, I call them RWAP (Research Writing Art Project), ask students to focus on 4 parts: 1. Title 2. Provide colored copies of at least 2 artworks related to their Project, correctly identified. For the correct identification, I expect them to write the name of the artist (if known), the title of the work, date, medium, and current location, 3. Writing Assignment as required, 4. Art Assignment is open to student imagination and creativity.
For the Augustus vs Matellus Project students are asked to study their Social Studies Textbook Unit on Roman Government, and the following Khan Academy articles:
Their Writing Assignment is to 1. Create a Ven Diagram comparing Matellus to Augustus. They are asked to use their RWAP Book and write in Bullet Points their Comments. 2. Write a paragraph presenting which of the two statues they prefer, explaining why by giving at least 3 reasons.
Their Art Assignment
is to “study” the two statues and… Be imaginative! Be creative! Be original!
The end of the Academic year approaches fast and my wonderful
Grade 5 students created an inspiring final Poster/Project on “Wildlife and
the Pindos Mountain.”
As the Grade 5 Host Country Studies teacher, I thoroughly enjoy exploring, along with my students, various aspects of Greek Cultural Geography! During the last 8 Lessons, we focused on the region of Epirus and its rich cultural heritage. We talked about the region’s geography, history, art, culture, heritage, and mythology. The “Wildlife and the Pindos Mountain” Activity was the Unit’s culminating student challenge. I believe they all passed with flying colors!!!
Enjoy PowerPoints and Student Activity. Bear in mind that it can easily be adapted for whichever Mountain, wherever in the world, you choose to explore!!
The following quote and site will introduce you to the Pindos Mountain National Park. “The park is, for the most part, a large wooded valley encircled by peaks, all over 2000 meters. Almost eighty species of birds live in the Pindos area, including the Imperial, golden, and short-toed eagles, the lanner falcons, the Egyptian vulture, and quite a few species of breeding woodpeckers. This is also one of the areas where bears, wolves, and wild cats are found, as well as red squirrels, wild boar, roe deer, beech martens, and otters (along the streams). A large variety of reptiles, amphibians, and insects complete the picture.” http://pindosnationalpark.gr/en/
ARCTUROS is a non-profit, non-governmental, environmental organization (NGO) founded in 1992, focusing on the protection of wildlife fauna and natural habitat, in Greece and abroad. The ARCTUROS site greatly helped students find information so as to finish their project. Explore their site… it’s amazing, as amazing is the work they do!
Could “Gilgamesh, the Sumerian Hero” help you better understand… How do heroes accomplish such amazing feats? Or what turns an ordinary man into a hero? Have you ever wondered if we are all a little bit of a hero? What do great cities like Uruk look like?
The Sumerians, like many people of the Bronze Age (starts about the mid 4th millennium BC to about 1000 BC the latest), had a very spirited oral tradition. There were no books at the time, available for people to enjoy reading and get their imagination run uncontrolled and wild. Storytellers played an important role, getting people excited with stories about the great Heroes, fantastic achievements, strict morals and ethics. Gilgamesh, the Sumerian Hero, never failed to dazzle the Sumerians and he dazzles us today!
Gilgamesh was, the story tells us, one of the kings of the Sumerian city of Uruk. His name is on the list of kings of Sumer recovered from the library at Nineveh. Did he exist as a real person or was he just made up by the Sumerians? We may never know. Like many other Heroes around the world, he was a part god and part human. He was also endowed with divine powers, a great sense of duty and ethics. Could we call Gilgamesh the first superhero?
Imagine… the unimaginable, and Gilgamesh did it. Along with his faithful friend Enkidu (friendship is always important for a Hero) they traveled the world fighting terrible monsters, rescuing people in need, moving mountains and rivers… in other words, protecting and saving the people of Sumer from any imaginable calamity. How do we know all these amazing facts? Clay tablets, preserved at the Library of ancient Nineveh and written in cuneiform writing, inform us with interesting details!
“Gilgamesh, the Sumerian Hero,” Educational Videos and Interesting PowerPoints
A small Bronze Age Vessel with Palm Trees became the focal point of my interest and a simple yet creative Activity. It was love at first sight!
While visiting the “Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures from Saudi Arabia” Exhibition, a small 5,000-year-old Chlorite Vessel decorated with Palm Trees caught my eye. I was at the Benaki Museum in Athens and I was stunned and intrigued. So much so that I began searching and thus a journey started to an island in the Persian Gulf, called Tarout. The journey revealed a Near Eastern island site where creativity, imagination, craftsmanship, and trade, throughout the ancient Near East, from Syria to the Indus Valley, reigned supreme!
The Palm Tree decoration used by the Tarout artists became an “interlude” kind of Activity for many of my classes. I used the PP and the Worksheets I prepared with my Grade 3 students when aspects of the Bronze Age were discussed and with Grade 6 Social Studies students while we explored the Indus River Valley trade routes. It gives me a chance to examine along with my students, how ideas, artistic endeavors, and goods “traveled” around the world, influenced people and created connections and relations.
For my PP in Vessel with Palm Trees in Bronze Age Art… Check HERE!
“Artists and designers are always looking for inspiration, and what better place to find it than an art museum’s encyclopedic collections of great treasures.” Realizing how important this is, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art collaborates with establishing artists and designers “to create a range of art-inspired products, from T-shirts and fragrances to jewelry and bags.” Check out this Observer article and check my Worksheets … HERE! … get inspired to create your own Palm Tree artwork!
Palm Trees and a Student Activity
For the “Vessel with Palm Trees” Activity I use the recommended PP and the Worksheets I created. Photocopy them, and if you wish, enlarge them, so as students have more space to work on. Show students the prepared PP, then discuss how the Palm Tree is used as a decorative motif by the artists of the Bronze Age in the Near East and in Minoan Crete as well.
Show students how designer Kendall Conrad was inspired by the LACMA chlorite handled weight. “This artwork first caught my eye because it was in the shape of a bag, but the carved image is what I fell in love with,” she said.
So, we take a Selfie and post it on Instagram, or the school photographer comes along and takes our photo for the Yearbook. Have you thought about why or how it is done? How did people immortalize themselves before photography was invented in the mid-1800s? Can you guess the reasons behind historical portraits or contemporary snapshots? Do you want to explore, research or investigate American Colonial Portraits?
Are funny faces part of your repertoire when someone takes your photograph? For hundreds of years, it was rare to see facial expressions like frowning, laughing, or smiling in portraits. People were expected to look dignified and composed. Any facial expression was thought of as unpleasant or even ugly. Expressive eyes were more important than smiling mouths! Were all the portraits solemn and austere?
Portraits have been a popular subject among artists and patrons throughout the ages. From ancient Egyptian renderings on Tomb walls at Saqqara, in Egypt, to Rembrandt’s Self-Portraits and the abstracted works of Pablo Picasso, artists have depicted all kinds of portraits and in a wide variety of ways.
“American Colonial Portraits” Activities
Activities in this presentation were created for my Grade 8 American Art class, but can be adapted and used for any Class or Unit on Portraiture. Students, individually or with partners, will explore and then express their own views on Portraiture by creating original work of writing or art.
Individual Student Activity 1: This is a Writing Across the Curriculum Activity on Adjectives. Students are asked to INVESTIGATE the meaning of each adjective in the provided Worksheet, by Clicking HERE!
Students’ GOAL is to find, for each Letter, the most descriptive Adjective for the word PORTRAIT and what it represents. They are asked to WRITE the adjectives of their choice, next to the corresponding Letter on the provided Worksheet. In conclusion, students are further asked to WRITE explanatory sentences with the adjectives of their choice.
Student Activity … with a Partner 1: Students are asked to work with a partner and prepare A POEM FOR TWO VOICES by… Clicking HERE!
Working in pairs, pretending to be Mr. John Freake and Mrs. Elizabeth Freake, students are asked to complete the phrases in the Template. For the “we” statements, students should find a word that describes the feelings/thoughts/wants/wills of both of them. Look at the painting for inspiration. A POEM FOR TWO VOICES is meant to be read aloud. So, rehearse with your partner for an incredible presentation. Each partner will read/recite their “I” parts individually and together, they will read/recite the “WE” parts. This is a wonderful activity for Upper Elementary and Middle School students.
Info on American Colonial Portraits and A Poem for Two Voices