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Lesson Plans Library 9-12 > Fine Arts
Modern African Art and Artisans
Modern African Art and Artisans
Grade level: 9-12 Subject: Fine Arts Duration: 2 class periods
 



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Student Objectives
  • Explain the difference between artists and artisans.
  • Discuss some of the common themes among artisans, such as traditions, materials, process, and inspiration.
  • Describe other modern-day African artisans and their work.
Materials
  • Discovering the Arts: Modern African Art and Artisansvideo
  • Computer with Internet access
Procedures
  1. Read the following quote from Derme Morou, the bronze sculptor featured in the video:

    "I am both an artist and an artisan. Perhaps I should explain. In our trade, we make things which are useful, and we make things which are purely decorative, things which are just to be looked at, to give pleasure. Since I do both, I am both an artisan and an artist."
  2. Discuss the difference between an artist and an artisan. Make a list of the types of artisans featured in the video: bronze sculptor, potter, blacksmith, leatherworker, weaver. Why are these people considered artisans? Are they artists as well? Why or why not?
  3. Next, discuss some of the common themes featured about African artisans in the video:
    • Training: How did these artisans learn their crafts? How are they passing on their crafts to others?
    • Materials: What are some of the materials artisans use? How do they get these materials?
    • Process: How do artisans produce goods? What are some tools that they use? How do they depend on others in the community?
    • Inspiration: How does an artisan feel about his or her craft? Where does an artisan get his or her inspiration?
  4. Have students explore different modern-day African craftspeople. The African Crafts Web site lists various artisans along with portfolios of their work. Examples of artisans include weavers, beadmakers, recyclers, plastic crocheters (crochets with plastic bags), ceramists, leatherworkers, cloth dyers, quilters, tie-dyers, stamp carvers, puppeteers, drum makers, and blacksmiths:
  5. Have each student choose an artisan from the Web site and read about his or her work and crafts. Each student should then print out or draw pictures of three of the artisan’s works. They should also record important facts about the artisan, such as:
    • Name
    • Country
    • Type of craft
    • Common materials
    • Themes or symbols
    • Process or tools
    • Source of inspiration or ideas
    • Training (how the artisan learned the craft, and how he or she is passing it on to others)
  6. Set up an "African market" around the classroom. Have students place their craft images on their desks and play the role of the craftspeople. Let students take turns walking through the "market," asking questions about the different crafts.
  7. When everyone has had a chance to learn about other artisans, have students regroup and discuss what they learned. Ask students to describe some of their favorite craftspeople. Are they artisans, artists, or both? Why?
  8. End the class with a discussion of modern-day artisans in your community. Who are they? What do they create?

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Assessment
Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
  • 3 points: Students clearly made the distinction between artist and artisan; answered several questions about common themes of artisans in the video; provided a thoughtful, clear description of the artisan they researched, including all of the requested information.
  • 2 points: Students adequately made the distinction between artist and artisan; answered some questions about common themes of artisans in the video; provided a satisfactory description of the artisan they researched, including most of the requested information.
  • 1 point: Students could not make the distinction between artist and artisan; answered few or none of the questions about common themes of artisans in the video; provided a vague or incomplete description of the artisan they researched, including little of the requested information.

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Vocabulary
artisan
Definition:Someone who is skilled at a craft
Context:Some artisans teach their crafts to younger generations in order to keep them in the villages.

blacksmith
Definition:Someone who makes and repairs iron and metal objects
Context:Blacksmiths in Africa are highly valued because they create and fix tools.

bush
Definition:A wide, natural area covered with plants, where few people live
Context:A bronze sculptor sometimes gets ideas by going into the bush and watching farmers and animals.

forge
Definition:The place (or actual furnace) where metal is heated and hammered into metal objects
Context:Children brought the wood back to the village, where it was used in fires at the forge.

ore
Definition:A mineral from which a particular metal, such as gold, can be extracted
Context:The blacksmith used to go to the mine to get ore, but today he buys it at market.

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Academic Standards
National Art Education Association
The National Art Education Association has developed national guidelines for what students should know and be able to do in the arts. To view the standards online, go toartsedge.kennedy-center.org/teach/standards.cfm.
This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:
  • Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures
The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)
NCSS has developed national guidelines for teaching social studies. To become a member of NCSS, or to view the standards online, go tohttp://www.socialstudies.org/standards/strands/.
This lesson plan addresses the following thematic standards:
  • People, Places, and Environments
  • Culture
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
McREL’s Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K–12 Education addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visithttp://www.mcrel.org/compendium/browse.asp.
This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:
  • Geography: Human Systems ? Understands the nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics
  • Arts: Art Connections ? Understands connections among the various art forms and other disciplines
  • Career Education: Arts and Communication: Role of Culture ? Knows a range of arts and communication works from various historical and cultural periods

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