Imaginary Places, Sacred Spaces

This lesson will focus on the idea of imaginary places, sacred spaces and how humanity connects to the idea of the unseen divine. Students will make connections between the high art of Guadi’s cathedral, “Sagrada Familia” and the art of two outsider artists, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein and Simon Rodia, both working on similar themes, the sacred and imaginary.

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Visionary Writing and Utterance in Contemporary Art

Students will embellish and re-purpose vintage polyester suits as a commentary on the role of the individual in society and a reflection upon how these roles have shifted over time between the 1970s and the new millennium. Students will also refurbish old books to illustrate the importance of the transformative power of words.

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Local Heroes

This interdisciplinary unit will ask students to analyze the influence of a person’s personality and upbringing on their choices and achievements later in life. We hope through this unit that students will internalize the idea that they can make a contribution to their community no matter who they are.

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A Piece of Me in My Community

Through this lesson, students will develop their knowledge of outsider or self-taught artists and their inspirations, including Henri Rousseau, Clementine Hunter and Johann Fischer. They will apply this knowledge in the development of a painted relief combining text and imagery in the style of Johann Fischer as an “ode” to our community, including a descriptive poem and images.

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Mementos of War

Through this lesson students will create and explore imagined, yet plausible, journeys triggered by war. Using WWII as a backdrop, students will confront the same realities that our ancestors did decades ago. Outsider artists, Kid Mentz and Howard Finster, will inspire the students to create artistic expressions which represent their past lives, their journeys and their life lessons.

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Healing Treasures

With artists such as Judith Scott and Emery Blagdon, their work was an obsessive expression of very personal needs; one focused on treasured items and the other on healing those we treasure. This project will honor things/people/places that students both treasure and find to have a healing effect, while also using the obsessive nature of creating these pieces as a healing process.

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The Healing Powers of Art Making

By discussing the work of self-taught and mainstream artists, students will learn that there are varied and original ways to express a connection between healing and making art. Students will use paint and found objects to create personal artwork and experience the transformative powers inherent in art making.

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Bookmaking, Murals, Journaling

Students will design and create a journal to record their writing, ideas, and sketches using found materials bound with waxed twine. Drawing inspiration from the social history of DuSable High School, whose motto is “Peace if possible, but justice at any rate,” students will explore personal memoir writing, free choice writing, and mural depictions inspired by Henry Darger and James Castle.

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Follow the Alphabet Road

Students will create mosaic sculptures in this lesson, which is designed to engage them in service-learning pedagogy centered on authentic problem solving of community-based issues. Seeking inspiration from the outsider artists Howard Finster, Simon Rodia, Leonard Knight, Isaiah Zagar, and Dr. Evermore, students will create a visionary environment in the school garden with focus on animals and plants native to Illinois.

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