A few weeks ago, one of my colleagues and I attended a teacher training at the Honolulu Museum of Art.  We had to wake up early to head to the Maui airport, rent a car in Honolulu, then drive through morning traffic to the museum, and Honolulu is rated one of the worst traffic cities in the US!  When we first got there, we saw a giant photo of Princess Nahi‘ena‘ena outside.  She was the princess of the Hawaii Kingdom when the capital was on Maui, so she is special to us. 

The workshop claims that arts integration can strengthen Common Core implementation and better prepare students for the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  We got to visit the Lending Library, practice observation skills in the galleries with museum docents, and sample the curriculum-themed guided school tours.  

This fall, the State of Hawaii sent a poster to each public school teacher to help teach a visual literacy observation technique called ODIC: Observe, Describe, Interpret, Connect.  One of the museum educators told us that she watches people looking at art in the museum all the time and is shocked to see them only look for a few seconds before moving on to the next painting.  In the museum setting, that makes sense because they have so much art to see.  But in the classroom, we don't have to view as much art and can spend time looking at one piece of artwork at a time.  In the ODIC technique, students will first silently observe the art.  Ask themselves: What is the subject?  What is in the background?  Next, they will describe what it is they see, without and opinions or judgements.  After describing, they will interpret and say what they think the painting is about.  And last they will make connections to their lives or other things they have seen.  We did ODIC with the painting in the poster below, Lei Sellers by American painter Juliette May Fraser.  After observing quietly for a few minutes, we described what we saw.  Many thought the girl in the front looked bored.  Many noticed how the four people in the painting were looking in different directions.  Some noticed lei hanging in the top right background, some thought it was a tree.  In the top left background, many were unsure until one pointed out it was a boat, possibly a cruise ship.  That lead us to interpret that maybe the sellers were waiting for the cruise ship to dock before they could sell their lei.  I made a direct connection since I went on a cruise for the first time this summer.  It was quite fun to experience the art this way and to discuss the painting in this structured manner that helped us think critically for ourselves instead of just passively reading about the artist.  
This is the next painting that the museum will be turning into a poster.  It is called Study of Fish by Dutch painter Hubert Vos.  We did the same ODIC protocol around this real painting.  We noticed the vibrant colors of the fish.  We noticed that the fish were from many different areas of the ocean, some reef fish, some bottom feeders.  They also varied in size.  We noticed the lauhala basket that the man held, the net behind the table in the middle of the painting, and the large koa wood bowl in the right.  The man doesn't wear a shirt, so we interpreted that this was happened during pre-contact Hawaii, before the arrival of Captain Cook and the Western world.  After reading the card next to the painting, we learned that this was painted in 1898, so we were right about it being old! It's amazing that the colors are still so vibrant after more than 100 years! 

"In painting this carefully detailed representation of fifty-seven varieties of the fish and crustaceans that inhabit Hawaiian waters, Hubert Vos drew on the tradition of 17th-century Dutch still-life painting, with which he was doubtless familiar from his childhood and studies in Europe.  To create the composition, he sketched actual specimens of sea life that he purchased at the Honolulu fish market, giving careful attention to their richness of color and form.  An ‘umeke of kou wood, a draped net, and a woven lauhala basket locate this scene in pre-contact Hawaii. " 
Next, we learned a fun activity called Exquisite Corpse.  It started out as a word game played by surrealist painters in Paris during the 1920's.  The word game goes adjective-noun-verb-adjective-noun.  They would write a word, fold the paper over and pass it to the next person.  They would continue writing, folding, and passing through the whole pattern.  At the end, they would have a funny sentence.  The name came from a sentence from the first time the famous painters played: "The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine." 

The museum collected some local artists and created works of art made in the same fashion.  They would fold a sheet of paper in thirds.  Draw on one section and leave only little lines over the edges, fold their section back and pass.  The next artist would use the little lines over the edges to start their drawing.  Once done, they would fold it once last time and pass it on to the next artist.  

Here is a sample of an Exquisite Corpse painting from the exhibit at the museum:

After looking at the art, we wrote sentences in the Exquisite Corpse fashion about the artwork.  We wrote one sentence, folded the paper and passed it on.  By the end, we had one sentence of our own and 2 of others in the group.   We read them out loud and the group had to guess which artwork we were writing about.   It was really fun! 

Here are the sentence on my paper:

Violent tornado swirling lost lives.
Colorful creatures destroyed corrupted grasp.
Graceful legs dance around the swirling stage.

I added a preposition to my sentence (around) and the docent told us that was ok :)

Our next stop was the Lending Library.  The museum has this wonderful room in the basement where teachers can go and check out artifacts to bring back to their classrooms.  They'll even mail artifacts to outer islands! The artifacts are arranged by country, so it ties really well into social studies and learning about different cultures.  We did an activity called See Think Wonder.  We each found one artifact that spoke to us.  We wrote what we saw, facts about the artifact.  Then for the Think section, we drew the artifact.  Under Wonder, we wrote questions about the artifact.

Here was my paper.  I chose a bronze head sculpture from Africa.  I definitely think this technique could be used in the classroom when observing artifacts or even pictures of artifacts from another culture.  Instead of just telling students about an artifact, students have to observe it and ask questions to figure out as much as they can on their own.

We also got to sample three different curriculum-based tours for classroom field trips to the museum: Math Through Art, STEAM @ the Museum, and Literature Through Art.

In Math Though Art, we got to play with Photo Voltaic paper and create designs in the sun.  We picked which manipulatives to put on our paper.  Then we laid it in the sun and let it sit for about 10 minutes. 
After the time was up, we dipped the paper in water and hung it up to dry.  After it dried, we could see the patterns.  It was really cool.
We also talked about perspective.  We looked down this hallway of the museum and counted the pillars.  We talked about how the closer ones looked bigger and the farther ones looked smaller.  We all got to sketch this hallway and practice drawing with perspective. 
We then went into an upstairs gallery for STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics.  We looked at this mobile and tried to balance the sides and sliding the string on the stick.  It was a lot of fun to see that when you move the pendulum, you need more or less weight to balance. 
The red bag has more rocks than the blue bag because the string is closer to the red bag.
We then got some time to browse the galleries.  Remember when we saw the Princess poster at the front? Well, we also got to see the REAL Princess painting! And there she is with her brother, the famous King Kamehameha III.  That was really cool.
All in all, I LOVED this PD and the opportunity to visit the museum.  I can't wait to implement some of the strategies in my classroom! I decided to make posters for ODIC to put up in my room.  Then I can change the painting to display.  You can click any image below to download them for free!






How do you incorporate the arts in your lessons?
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