Writing an Artist's Statement: Informative Writing
Lesson 7 of 8
Objective: SWBAT write informative prose, an artist's statement by synthesizing and explaining sources about an artist and his/her work.
Activate Prior Knowledge: What is the most interesting artist that you have heard about? What more would you like to learn about the artists that we have been writing about? Here's your chance.
- Review English1WritingAboutArt Assignment.
- How can you learn about your artist? How can you sift through the various sources online?What types of literature can you use as a connection piece?
Rationale: Here, students can write about sources that they have read carefully (RI.9-10.1) and create an informative essay that helps clarify their ideas (W.9-10.2), and along the way, they make a valid, literary connection (RL.9-10.1). As you read this essay assignment, it might look a bit hodge-podge, but it's really a great chance for students to connect ideas and to report them in an interesting way. This is an exciting piece of writing because it allows the students to be truly synthesis-oriented in their approach, making connections to research about the artist, the art itself, and another text that we have read in class.
Model Essay and Discussion
Here below is a strong student example, one that does some research, documents a correct footnote, offers a valid and artistically-significant literary connection as well as comment about the painting.
We will read the sample essay aloud, and I will ask: (SL.9-10.1)
What new appreciation does this artist's statement bring about?
How does it get you to see the painting differently?
What do you think of the research and information?
Sample Essay: Edward Hopper
My name is Edward Hopper. I was born on July 22, 1882 in Nyack, New York and died on May 15, 1967. My interest in drawing began when I was five, I’m quite sure I must have inherited my artistic side from my mother. My parents both fully supported the idea of me being interested in art, they would buy me many materials to draw with, magazines, and picture books. I always dreamed that I would become a naval architect, but after I graduated, I had second thoughts and changed my mind to enter the fine arts, which later on led me to enroll in the New York School of Art. Not once did I regret the choice I made that day, and I became determined to be recognized for my work. My paintings were of scenes that were happening in cities or towns, and of landscapes. When people looked at them, it was identified as being a mature style and presented to show realism. One of my most famous painting was called Nighthawks. In this painting there were four customers, (one of which I used my wife as a model for), and a waiter at a diner late at night, you can notice that they all seem to be lost in their own thoughts, not trying to interact with the people around them, none of them care to break the silence that is taking over that room.
While I was reading Fahrenheit 451, the part where Montag was describing the city as he was floating away, “Now there was only the cold river and Montag floating in a sudden peacefulness, away from the city and the lights and the chase, away from everything. He felt as if he had left a stage behind many actors. He felt as if he had left the great seance and all the murmuring ghosts. He was moving from an unreality that was frightening into a reality that was unreal because it was new he was a thing of brush and liquid.” Reading this reminded me of my painting Nighthawks, it was talking about how Montag was now alone, floating away from a lonely city and just able to sit calmly and let the river take him on its way. It reminded me of how the people in the diner of my painting were sitting peacefully, deep in thought in a lonely city.
When people look at my painting they might that it’s just a few people hanging around a diner late at night, not having to be anywhere important, but just wanting to be there to relax. After I drew this painting, I realized that after drawing these characters in a way where they were positioned in thought, alone in a diner, I realized I was really trying to depict the loneliness of the city.
Murphy, Jessica. "Edward Hopper (1882–1967)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/hopp/hd_hopp.htm (June 2007)
Wrap-up and Writing
I will give the students a chance to begin this essay and then finish for homework. Again, the idea is that students will write three short (1+ page) essays (W.9-10.10) and then pick one of them to polish and expand for a summative grade. It's an interesting gambit, this writing of multiple papers at once. I have not typically done this because I have favored taking the time to put each essay through the full writer's process, but for now, I am wanting volume and fluency. By writing more, I wonder, will students gain a sense of can-do facility with writing? I know that this did work for me in my own academic career, so I am curious to hear how it will go for the students.