There's No Place Like Home: Collaboratively Building Communities

Inspired by the work of artists Wesley and Ricky Willis, students collaboratively explored community building through visual arts and dance. Community is a uniquely important topic to Franklin Fine Arts students because they live in many different neighborhoods across the city. We chose to study the works of Wesley Willis and his brother Ricky Willis, two brothers whose distinct art works live as an homage to Chicago and their neighborhoods. We were intrigued by Wesley’s famous drawings of the skyline and by Ricky’s sculptural renderings of Chicago structures both famous and ordinary. During this project, students discussed their experiences in their own communities, as well as the social and physical resources needed to create a neighborhood. How do we build places that can connect people with what they need and with each other?

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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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