Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jacob Lawrence

This month the fifth grade students celebrated African American History Month by studying the life and work of Jacob Lawrence.  Jacob Lawrence was an extraordinary person and artist who is best known for his series titled Migration.  This series is a group of 60 paintings documenting the movement to the northern states by many southern African Americans who were trying to escape the Jim Crow laws.  As a social realist, Lawrence's work documents the accomplishments and history of African Americans, as well as showing the images of everyday life in the African American community.
Although his series was meant to be exhibited together as one work, Lawrence agreed to allow the Museum of Modern Art to purchase half of the series, and The Phillip's Collection to purchase the other half.  The 5th grade students participated in a field trip to The Phillip's Collection to view half of the series and learn more about his work.  When we returned back to school the students began recreating The Migration Series with oil pastel and collage paper.  The fifth graders noticed Jacob Lawrence's painting style, particularly the way in which he leaves our the facial details of the people in his paintings.  We concluded that he was trying to convey the masses of people that took part in the migration, and that including facial details would detract from the overall story that he was telling with the series.  The last step was to engage in a Tableau to act out the different scenes from the series to really solidify and bring to life all that the students learned during this unit.  These images are on display at the top of the stairs on the second floor of the school.

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