Identity Box: Fred Wilson

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1 Identity Box: Fred Wilson 12

2 Identity Box: Fred Wilson Using Fred Wilson s curatorial technique and the context of the Harlem Renaissance, each student will create an Identity Box assemblage that reveals something about their personality/character and culture. TIMEFRAME: MUSEUM VISIT AND (TWO-THREE) 60-MINUTE CLASSES Lesson Objectives Learn how Fred Wilson gives voice and identity to works of art by giving them a new context and allowing individuals to form their own interpretation of a piece. Students will learn how Fred Wilson uses juxtaposition to create interesting dynamics through art installations. They will be educated on challenging visual relationships, status quos, history, and social perspectives. Discuss why Wilson paired certain historical pieces together, what was his intended meaning and its connection to the Harlem Renaissance. Discuss different variables that will encourage finding one s own identity, the importance of understanding culture and the contributions African Americans have made to the Harlem Renaissance, and Fred Wilson s contribution to museums, personal perspective, and the larger historical context. Create an Identity Box assemblage of objects that tells a personal story. National Standards NA-VA Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes NA-VA.5-8.3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas NA-VA.5-8.4: Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures NA-VA.5-8.5: Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others NA-VA.5-8.6: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines Materials/Instructional Setup: Teacher: glue, acrylic paint, paintbrushes (various sizes), hot glue gun, Mod Podge, newspaper, water cans, markers, crayons, and colored pencils Students: Five to seven personal objects/images no larger than their hand (no glass/ceramics) that they are allowed to glue or paint, a shoe or photo box Georgia Standards VA7CU.1 Discovers how the creative process relates to art history. VA7CU.2 Investigates and discovers personal relationship to community, culture, and world through creating and studying art. VA7C.1 Applies information from other disciplines to enhance the understanding and production of artworks. VA7MC.2 Identifies and works to solve problems through creative thinking, planning, and/or experimenting with art methods and materials. VA7MC.4 Participates in dialogue about his or her artwork and the artwork of others. IDENTITY BOX: FRED WILSON 13

3 Terminology/Definitions: ASSEMBLAGE Assemblages are art creations that consist of a collection of different materials. These could include wire, wood, paper, and cloth--almost anything that fits the design and texture requirements of the artist. CONCEPTUAL ART A form of artistic representation, in which a specific concept or idea, often personal, complex and inclusive, takes shape in an abstract, nonconforming manner, based upon a negation of aesthetic principles. CURATOR A person responsible for a specific collection in a cultural heritage institution (such as an archive, a library, or a museum). The curator specializes in a subject relevant to the collection and is deeply informed about the content it contains. JUXTAPOSITION An act or instance of placing two things close together or side by side. This is often done in order to compare/ contrast the two, to show similarities or differences, etc. IDENTITY BOX: FRED WILSON 14

4 Artist s Background: I get everything that satisfies my soul from bringing together objects that are in the world, manipulating them, working with spatial arrangements, and having things presented in the way I want to see them. - Fred Wilson Although I have mainly arranged objects created by others, I have been thinking about relationships and what s really important in life. It s great to create this kind of work in addition to the museum critique projects. This work of my own creation is what I am excited about now. - Fred Wilson Fred Wilson is a world-renowned American artist and curator of African American and Caribbean descent, whose career has spanned the past four decades. He was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1954, received a B.F.A. from the State University of New York at Purchase in 1976, and currently lives in New York City. Fred Wilson has an unorthodox artistic practice of pairing artifacts found in museum collections in such a way that it leads viewers to recognize changes in context, thus creating changes in meaning. Although he studied art, he no longer has a strong desire to make things with his hands. His interest lies in shaping interpretations of historical truth, artistic value, and the language of display. Wilson creates mixedmedia installations that reveal how art and culture are shaped by social and economic structures. He also has formidable narrative skills and a talent for fashioning installations that reinvent a more powerful interpretation than individual components. His work challenges viewers to think deeply about the multi-layered art before them. Selected works of art: Fred Wilson installations Fred Wilson s installations will be the catalyst for this lesson. Wilson not only highlights the achievements of the African American artists, but also exposes the plight of a people that helped build this nation. Wilson has paired specific objects together in order to tell stories about a forgotten, but important journey that led to the Harlem Renaissance. These stories tell not only of their life struggles, which are poignant reminders of days gone by, but also reveal the significant contributions this cultural group made to the world of art (ie. literature, drama, music, visual art, dance). Students will take a journey of self-discovery by exploring and identifying pieces of themselves as they migrate from the museum to the classroom. By examining their own viewpoints and relationships to others, students will gain a better understanding of the layers that give dimension to culture; gain an appreciation for artistic diversities; and gain sensitivity that will allow them to show empathy toward those who are different from themselves. This unit is about allowing the students to relate, rationalize, and reinvent social and historical norms. IDENTITY BOX: FRED WILSON 15

5 Museum Visit/Discussion Review Historical Context of Evans Collection, the Harlem Renaissance, page ten. The artist Fred Wilson realizes that many people do not know about the achievements of African American artists. Being of African American and Caribbean descent, Wilson wants to let everyone know how important these achievements were not only to his life as an artist and curator, but also to American history. In order to get his message across, Wilson places objects together in such a way that the group of objects tells a story about the African American journey to freedom. All of the objects and artwork were created by African American artists and represent a time period that spans from the late 1800s to the present. The teacher will look at each installation created by Fred Wilson and ask the students the following questions: 1. Look at this installation for a moment. Describe the objects in this installation 2. How would you describe this scene to a person who could not see it? 3. Are there any people/figures displayed in this scene? How would you describe them? Are they like you or different? 4. How do you think each object relates to the African American journey to freedom? 5. What story do you think Fred Wilson would like us to take away from this scene? 6. How does Wilson s work reflect his personal identity? 7. What questions would you ask Fred Wilson about this work, if he were here? For homework, students will need to: Write in their sketchbooks, giving a brief reflection about their experience at the museum. Bring to class a shoe or photo box along with five to seven objects/images that represent their personality/character and/or cultural heritage. Classroom Activities Discussion/Warm-up: Teacher will ask the following questions: What were some of the objects or stories that you remember from our museum visit? (Students can read or talk about their reflections that they wrote for their homework assignment.) How does Wilson s work reflect his personal identity? Instruction/Guided Practice: Teacher to ask the following: Look the objects you chose to represent you. What do these objects say about you, your personality and cultural heritage? Do they represent what is important to you? Your interests, hobbies, and successes? The student will need to decorate the inside and outside of the shoe or photo box with color combination or pattern that best depicts their personality and/or cultural heritage. The students will arrange and glue their objects into the box. Closure: Students will write a brief summary on the following to share with the class: Why they chose the color pattern/combination to represent their personality. What meaning do these objects have personally and/or culturally? Modification for Intelligences Students who finish work early may have free draw time. IDENTITY BOX: FRED WILSON 16

6 Identity Box Assessment Criteria: Unsatisfactory (1) Adequate (2) Good (3) Excellent (4) Score Following Instruction Student did not listen to any instructions and disregarded all of the rules on the museum tour Student somewhat listened and abided by some of the rules on the museum tour Student demonstrates good listening skills and followed majority of the rules on the museum tour Student demonstrated above average listening skills and exhibited exceptional behavior on the museum tour Creativity Little or no thought was put into making the Identity Box colorful and interesting Limited or adequate thought process was used to make the Identity Box colorful and interesting Demonstrated good thought process and planning was used to make the Identity Box colorful, interesting and unique An outside of the box thought process was used when it came to creating a dynamic and uniquely colorful Identity Box Planning The student did not bring in any of the requested materials to create the Identity Box The student brought in 1 to 2 objects to create the Identity Box The student brought in 3 to 4 objects to create the Identity Box The student brought in 5 or more objects to create the Identity Box Technical Skills/ Neatness No attempt to be neat or use good craftsmanship skills Student work somewhat neat and demonstrates adequate craftsmanship Student is very neat and demonstrates good craftsmanship Student is exceptionally neat and demonstrates superb craftsmanship Class Participation Student never contributed to class discussion and critique Student contributed to class discussion and critique by offering one or 2 ideas, but did not ask any questions Student contributed to class discussion and critique by offering various ideas, but asking few questions Student proactively contributed to class discussion and critique by offering a variety of ideas, making suggestions and asking a variety of questions IDENTITY BOX: FRED WILSON 17

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