SYMBOLISM IN ART SYMBOLISM IN ART Grade Grade

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					           ART CONNECTIONS  tour packet
               CONNECTIONS




SYMBOLISM IN ART
5th Grade
                                                          ART CONNECTIONS  the tour


YOUR VISIT
The fifth grade tour will last an hour and a half. One half of your visit will be spent in the
galleries where students will learn about symbolism and mythical subject matter in art.
Students will learn to decode symbols in art from early Egypt through the twentieth century,
and will learn to identify mythological subject matter. During the second half of your tour,
symbol recognition will be reinforced with a visit to the exhibits in Art Connections. Students
will also participate in a hands-on studio activity.

                 INFORMATION
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
In the English language, we use words (verbal symbols) to communicate with others. In the
language of art, we use visual symbols rather than words. Symbols in art are images that
stand for something else. Symbolism is a visual language, and like any language, it is
learned, and depending on place and time, languages differ.

Early people used symbols to appease their gods, to petition for food, rain, or help defend
against enemies, and to give thanks. Symbols were placed on cave walls, container forms,
clothing, ceremonial objects, totems, architecture, jewelry, sculpture, and tools. Symbols
appear on the same kinds of objects in contemporary times. We recognize symbols every
day in traffic signs, directional markers, trademarks, or computer icons.

Myths are often depicted in art. A myth is a story that explains something. Myths frequently
deal with the actions of gods or god-like beings. Mythical figures may represent forces of
nature, like thunder or the sea; aspects of human character, like bravery or evil; or vocations
like music or poetry. The individuals in myths often become symbols for intangible ideas.

BEFORE YOUR VISIT
  • Review the information about the images in this packet. Show the images to your
     students and point out that each contains a number of symbolic clues that could be
     read by the audience for whom the artwork was made.

   •   Have students describe what they see in each image: subject matter, colors, shapes,
       lines, textures. List recognizable objects.

   •   Ask the students to speculate: How was the art object made? What were the
       materials, techniques, and process used?

   •   Examine the composition to note what colors, lines, shapes, textures, spaces and
       patterns seem to stand out. Why are they dominant?

   •   What information is being given by the artwork? What seems to be the message?
                                                    ART CONNECTIONS  vocabulary




ALLEGORY
A work in which the characters and events represent other things, and symbolically express
a deeper spiritual, moral or political meaning.

COAT-OF-ARMS
COAT-OF-
An arrangement of symbols, usually depicted on and around a shield, which indicates
ancestry and distinctions.

HIEROGLYPH
A picture or symbol that represents an Egyptian word, syllable, or sound.

MYTH
A traditional story of unknown authorship, serving usually to explain some phenomenon of
nature.

SYMBOL
An object, or image, used to represent something else, often an abstract concept such as
love.

VANITY
Excessive pride, especially in your appearance.
                                            Profile of the Pharaoh Ramses II
                                            Egyptian, c. 1290-1280 BC
                                                         1290-
                                            limestone fragment



                                  ABOUT THE SCULPTURE
                                  Funerary customs were important to the Egyptians, and
                                  each community had its own gods and goddesses. The
                                  Pharaoh was considered divine, and was responsible for
                                  the flooding of the Nile that allowed the yearly harvests.

                                  The Cummer relief depicts Ramses II in full regalia.
                                  Ramses's crown is composed of different symbolic
                                  elements. The upper tier is made of ram's horns, cow's
                                  horns, a sun disk and double plumes. The ram's horns
                                  were associated with power and fertility and are seen in
                                  the crowns of many Egyptian gods. The sun disk placed
                                  between cow's horns was associated with the rising sun
                                  and the celestial cow, which is identified with the Egyptian
                                  goddess Hathor. Double plumes are used on the crown
                                  of Osiris, who in Egyptian mythology, was the first king
and later became the king of the underworld. The Royal Uraeus-serpent wraps around the
band on the Pharaoh's forehead. Uraeus supposedly spit fire at the king's enemies. The
false beard attests to Ramses's powerful position. The beard was worn by all pharaohs as a
symbol of power. The pharaoh is shown as an idealized youth, in the prime of his life, full of
power.

The Pharaoh Ramses II is identified through his cartouche carved in the limestone, which
states the pharaoh's name in hieroglyphics framed by a representation of a cartouche, an
oval loop of rope tied in a knot at one end. The origin of this piece is unknown.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
   • Have the class look at the reproduction and describe it. Ask these questions: What
     do you see in this relief sculpture? How do you think it was made? Explain to the
     students that this work would have originally been brightly painted.
   • Have students analyze the way the parts of the sculpture work together. Ask these
     questions: What is the most important part of the sculpture? Is this a natural way to
     stand? How does a person's eye look in profile?
   • Have the class interpret what the work is about. Ask these questions: Do you think
     this is a realistic view or one from the artist’s imagination? Clarify and discuss the
     term symbol. Can you think of any modern symbols? What symbols can you identify
     in this relief sculpture? Discuss hieroglyphics and point out the hieroglyphics on the
     right side of the fragment.
                                              Jacques Grief, called de Claeuw
                                              Dutch, 1641-1677
   •                                          Vanitas, Ask
                                              at this image.
       Have the class sit quietlwhile looking Vanitas 1677 these questions: Do you
       enjoy looking at this sculpture?
                                              oil on canvas
                                              ABOUT THIS PAINTING

                                                       ABOUT THE PAINTING
                                                       Thanks to prosperity created by such
                                                       mercantile concerns as the Dutch East
                                                       India Company, a system of patronage
                                                       developed in 17th century Holland that
                                                       differed from the Catholic nations,
                                                       where artists worked for the Church or
                                                       the aristocracy. The new Dutch
                                                       Protestant middle class avidly
                                                       purchased paintings as decorations for
                                                       their homes. Secular subjects such as
                                                       landscapes, marine scenes, genre
                                                       subjects (scenes of everyday life), and
                                                       still-lifes were in vogue. De Claeuw was
                                                       noted for his still-life vanitas subjects.
The vanitas theme emphasized the transience of life, and how earthly wealth and beauty
inevitably succumb to death. The objects that best conveyed a sense of the impermanence
of life and worldly pleasures were first used as accessories in portraits. Soon assemblies of
these objects evolved into independent subjects.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
   • Have the class look at the image and describe it. Ask these questions: What
     different objects do you see in the still life? What colors do you see in this painting?
   • Have the class analyze the way the parts of the painting work together. Ask these
     questions: What is the focal point of the picture? Is there any compositional
     organization found in the arrangement of objects? Are the textures portrayed
     realistic?
   • Have the class interpret what the painting is about. Ask these questions: What is the
     artist trying to communicate in this painting? What is a symbol? Which objects
     symbolize wealth and power (seal with coat of arms, money bag, gold coins, deed
     with seals, tobacco, porcelain)? Which objects symbolize worldly pleasures
     (literature, musical instruments, painting tools, books, flies)? Which objects
     symbolize time and the future (deck of cards, wilted roses, shrouded globe with
     astrological signs, hour glass, bell, burning candle, almanac-used to predict the
     weather)? Which objects symbolize death (ace of spades, candle with flame almost
     out)?
   • Have the class sit quietly and look at the painting. Ask these questions: Do you like
     the painting? What do you like about it or not like about it? How does the painting
     make you feel? What does it make you think about?
                                                John Steuart Curry
                                                American, 1897-1946
                                                               Allegory,
                                                Parade to War, Allegory 1938
                                                oil on canvas


                                             ABOUT THE PAINTING
                                             John Steuart Curry was part of the American
                                             Scene or Regionalist movement of the early
                                             1930s. The Regionalists believed that art was
                                             not for the elite but for all people and often
                                             chose subjects reflecting nationalistic pride.
                                             Curry made preliminary sketches for Parade
                                             to War, Allegory in 1933, although the final
                                             piece is dated 1938. The 1930’s were the
                                             decade of The Great Depression, a period of
                                             great economic struggle, between the first
                                             and second World Wars. The years 1933 to
1938 also span the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who introduced government-
funded art projects that helped employ many artists, including Curry.

An allegory is a long and complicated story with an underlying meaning that is different from
the surface meaning. In this painting, we see a military parade of soldiers going off to war.
Curry showed a feeling of excitement that usually surrounds a parade but upon closer
inspection one sees that the "future heroes" going off to war have the faces of skeletons.
Curry contrasted the hope and expectations of the start of war with the outcome, too often,
death and despair

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
   • Have the class look at the image and describe it. Ask these questions: What do you
     see in this painting? Identify the figures and what they are doing. What colors do you
     see in the painting? How do you think this painting was made?
   • Have the class analyze the way the parts of the painting work together. Ask these
     questions: Which areas are the lightest, which are the darkest? What is the most
     important part of the painting? How does the artist draw attention to the figures?
   • Have the class interpret what the painting is about. Ask these questions: Is this a
     scene from a long time ago? What are the clues that help you decide? Why does the
     artist choose to show the soldiers' faces as skeletons? How do you think this artist
     felt about war? What type of feeling do you get by looking at this work? Ask students
     to identify any symbols they see.
   • Have the class sit quietly and look at the painting. Ask these questions: Do you like
     this painting? What can you learn from a painting like this? How does it make you
     feel?
                                                           ART CONNECTIONS  activities



VIEWING ACTIVITY
   • Art reproductions and slides illustrating symbols are available from the Visual
      Education Center and may be sent to public schools through school mail. Call Fran
      Phelps (630-6514) for assistance. If you are outside of the Duval County School
      system, look for magazines, art reproductions, and videos in your media center.
      Refer to the Resource List for suggestions.

   •   Visual symbols can be found in a variety of areas in modern life. As a class,
       assemble a collection of modern symbols and interpret the visual clues. Examples
       are: traffic signs, Olympic Games, informational markers, the zodiac, weather
       indicators, birthstones, the alphabet, the language of flowers, international flag
       codes, roadside signs, maps, or city directional guides.

   •   Examine a series of symbols and interpret the visual clues. Ask students to research
       color symbolism. Color is rich in symbolic associations and is used by artists to affect
       our emotional reactions. The color blue, for example, is thought of as being cool,
       remote or heavenly, and can be associated with the color of the sky or the sea. Red
       is associated with fire and suggests violence and change. Red, however, can also
       denote dignity and stateliness when applied to ceremonial occasions. In our society,
       black is traditionally associated with mournfulness, death or forcefulness. It is
       important to remember that symbols mean different things to different people and
       may vary over time.

WRITING ACTIVITY
  • Symbols are frequently abstractions of more complex images. The development of
      the alphabet illustrates the transformation of pictorial symbols into simplified
      characters. Ask students to research the history of the alphabet and discuss the
      changes seen as the letters evolved over time.

   •   Read a myth to the class. Ask the children to describe the hero’s physical
       appearance, costume and behavior. How do these provide clues about the
       character?

   •   As a class, learn about a set of specific symbols such as the semaphore flag code or
       Egyptian hieroglyphics. Have the students draw secret messages to be interpreted by
       a neighbor.
                                                       ART CONNECTIONS  activities


LISTENING
LISTENING ACTIVITY
   • The notes on the musical staff are symbols for sounds. Certain combinations of the
      sounds have become aural symbols, i.e., the bugle notes of Reveille, the organ notes
      of The Wedding March, the beginning notes of The Star Spangled Banner. Play a
      variety of these musically symbolic pieces. Ask the students to identify the
      symbolism in each piece.
   • Have your class listen to the Water Music Suite by George Frederic Handel. Ask
      them to describe the feeling the music gives. Draw or paint a symbol illustrating the
      composition.

POST-VISIT ACTIVITY
POST-
  • Look at examples of coats-of-arms. Discuss the organization of the images within the
      emblem format and talk about what the images might represent.

   •   Locate traditional heraldic symbols and allow students to use those symbols or create
       symbols of their own to design a personal logo, emblem, or coat-of-arms. A helpful
       book is Design Your Own Coat of Arms by Rosemary A. Chorzempa.

   •   Ask students to write their own myths to explain a natural phenomenon like thunder,
       snow, rain or a tornado.
                                                       ART CONNECTIONS  resources
                                                                         resources


The following suggested books, musical selections and visual images are great resources to
use with students to build an understanding of symbols in the world around us. Integrating
these selections, as well as your own, with class lessons will enhance students’
communication, critical thinking and literacy skills.

            ENHANCEMENT
LITERATURE ENHANCEMENT
   • Good Luck Symbols and Talismans (Looking into the Past: People, Places and
      Customs), Thomas Bracken
   • The American Eagle: The Symbol of America, Jon Wilson
   • Ancient Egypt (Sacred Symbols), Thames and Hudson
   • Give Me A Sign: What Pictograms Tell Us Without Words, Tiphanie Samoyault
   • Money, Money, Money: The Meaning of the Art and Symbols on United States Paper
      Currency, Nancy Winslow Parker
   • You Don’t Need Words: A Book About Ways People Talk Without Words, Ruth Belov
      Gross
   • Design Your Own Coat of Arms, Rosemary A. Chorzempa

MUSIC ENHANCEMENT
  • The Star Spangled Banner
  • The bugle notes of Reveille
  • The Wedding March
  • Water Music Suite, George Frederic Handel
  • Sounds of Nature: Summer Nights, Chuck Plaisance, Suzanne Doucet
  • Carnival of the Animals, Camille Saint-Saens

             ENHANCEMENT
VISUAL ARTS ENHANCEMENT
   • Egyptian Hieroglyphics
   • The American Flag
   • Flags of other nations
   • Posters of the Morse Code Dot and Dash Alphabet or the Semaphore Flag Alphabet
   • Adinkra symbols (African)

          WEB-
INTERNET WEB-SITES
   • http//www.metmuseum.org (timeline of Art History)
   • http://www.carts.org (Cultural Arts Resource for Teachers and Students)
   • http://www.mythweb.com (Greek mythology)
                                                       ART CONNECTIONS  standards


Students on this visit to the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens will focus on Language Arts,
Social Studies and Visual Arts standards specified in the Florida Curriculum Framework.

LANGUAGE ARTS
   • Writing standards addressed during the visit include (LA.5.3.3.3), (LA.5.3.5.3) and
     (LA.5.4.2.4).
   • Relating to the Reading, students will address the following standards (LA.5.1.6.1-5)
     and (LA.5.1.7.6).
   • During pre and post-visit activities, students will address Writing standards as they
     follow instructions for writing assighments (LA.5.3.1.1).

SOCIAL STUDIES
  • Under American History, students discuss history and refer to a timeline (SS.5.A.1.1)
      and (SS.5.A.1.2).
  • Relating to Geography, students discuss geographic knowledge (SS.5.G.4.1).

VISUAL
VISUAL ARTS, MUSIC, AND DANCE
   • Under Skills and Techniques, the student understands and applies media,
      techniques, and processes (VA.A.1.2.1 – 4).
   • Relating to Creation and Communication, students will create and communicate a
      range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas using knowledge of structures and
      functions of visual arts (VA.B.1.2.1 – 4).
   • Under Cultural and Historical Connections, students will understand the visual arts in
      relation to history and culture (VA.C.1.2.1, 2).
   • Relating to Aesthetic and Critical Analysis, students will assess, evaluate and respond
      to the characteristics of works of art (VA.D.1.2.1 – 3).
   • Under Applications to Life, students will make connections between the visual arts,
      other disciplines, and the real world (VA.E.1.2.1 – 3).
                                                        ART CONNECTIONS  logistics


PRE-
PRE-TOUR PACKET
   • These materials are to assist the teacher in preparing students for the field trip and to
      aid in introducing vocabulary and resource materials into the classroom.
   • Please call us immediately if the date, time or number of your students is NOT correct.
TIME SCHEDULE
   • Tours begin at 9:30 AM or 11:15 AM, and will last an hour and a half.
   • It is essential that buses arrive 15 minutes early so that tours begin on time.
   • If a bus arrives late, the lesson will be shortened accordingly.
   • If you need to leave early, please notify us before your tour.
BUS UNLOADING & PARKING
   • Buses should drop students off under the canopy at the Art Connections entrance.
   • If groups arrive by private car, they should park in the lots on Riverside.
CHAPERONES
   • One chaperone (teacher or parent) is required for every 10 students and is admitted
      for free. Additional chaperones are $5.00 each.
   • The supervision and discipline of children is the responsibility of chaperones.
STUDENT GROUPS
   • Be prepared to split students into groups (we WILL NOT know the number of groups
      until you arrive).
   • All students and chaperones should arrive at the museum wearing nametags.
SPECIAL NEEDS
   • So that we may better serve your group, please let us know of any special needs.
MUSEUM ETIQUETTE
   • Art Connections is a “hands-on” area and students are encouraged to explore with
      their eyes and hands. Please explain to students that touching is not permitted in
      the galleries.
PICNIC AREA
   • The museum does not have picnic facilities and NO FOOD OR DRINKS ARE
      ALLOWED.
   • Two parks are in the area. Riverside Memorial Park (duck pond), is on the corner of
      Margaret and Park Street. Memorial Park (riverfront) is on Riverside Avenue about a
      half mile south of the museum.
MUSEUM STORE
   • We now offer gift bags that will consist of several carefully selected and grade level
      appropriate items that relate to the students’ Museum visit.
   • Bags may be preordered and paid for at the time of your visit. Please contact Susan
      Tudor at 899-6036 for more information.
                                                       829 Riverside Avenue
                                                     Jacksonville, Florida 32204
                                                           904.355.0630
                                                         www.cummer.org


The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is recognized by the State of
Florida as a Florida Cultural Institution and receives partial funding from
the State of Florida Department of State, the Florida Arts Council, the
Division of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville.

In Addition, Art Connections is sponsored in part by Blue Cross Blue
Shield of Florida, Ida Broward Boyd and Crowther Mann Boyd, and Cindy
and Dan Edelman.

				
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