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Story Art – Jacob Lawrence

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1 Story Art – Jacob Lawrence
Presentation modified and prepared by Alice Finch 2012 2nd Grade February Art Project West Mercer Elementary Art Enrichment Program

2 How this PowerPoint Works
Some of the slides in this presentation are hidden. (The slide number has a box and slash through it.) A hidden slide will not be shown in ‘slide show’ mode. It is visible and can be edited etc. in ‘normal’ mode. You can change modes on the view tab or with the icons in the lower right corner. Some of the slides have notes. These notes contain more detailed information that will be helpful in understanding the background of an artist or talking points for a slide. If you would like view or print this presentation with the notes, use the ‘notes page’ on the view tab or on the print menu.

3 Lesson Overview Lesson: Shape, Color, Movement
Time: Two Sessions:2 sessions of 60 min. Medium: Tempera Curriculum Tie: Black History Month Volunteers: 4-5 strongly recommended Project Overview/Skills Students will learn about the narrative painter Jacob Lawrence, and, borrowing his use of bold color and geometric shape, create imagined scenes of the Great Migration. Resources Story Painter by John Duggleby (owned by West Mercer) The Great Migration by Jacob Lawrence (he wrote a wonderful foreword that is well worth reading) (owned by West Mercer) Jacob Lawrence American Painter by Ellen Harkins Wheat (owned by West Mercer) Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series, edited by Elizabeth Hutton Turner (owned by West Mercer) BIBLIOGRAPHY 1) Duggleby, John. Story Painter: The Life of Jacob Lawrence. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1998. 2) The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and The Phillips Collection. The Great Migration. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1993. 3) Turner, Elizabeth Hutton (Editor). Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series. Washington D.C.: The Rappahannock Press in association with The Phillips Collection, 1993. 4) Venezia, Mike. Jacob Lawrence. Danbury, CT: Children's Press, 1999. 5) Wheat, Ellen Harkins. Jacob Lawrence, American Painter. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1986.

4 Materials Needed Black poster board, 22x28 (one sheet yields two students) cut the 22x28 boards in half (cut in half on the 28in side) Canvas paper, 9x12 (2 sheets per student) Tempera paint: Brown, Black, White, Yellow, Red, Blue & Green Black Crayons Scratch paper Pencils Glue Black Sharpies, extra fine tip Yellow Construction Paper cut into strips (for captions) Drying Rack United States map (available in art supply room, under the light switch)

5 Today’s Project- Story Art
 Part 1 Jacob Lawrence The Great Migration Pencil, crayon, captions Part 2 Paint Jacob Lawrence was an African American painter whose work focused on African American history and contemporary life in the United States. Lawrence is noted for his narrative painting style; he loved using art to tell stories. While he did create visual narratives about historically important African Americans, he also depicted the life and struggles of “everyday” individuals. In 1941, he painted a series of 60 pictures depicting the history of the mass migration of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North. He showed how African American families lived in the South before moving North. He told of their hopes and struggles during their journey, and depicted what happened when they reached the North. You can use the map to show where they lived in the South and where they moved to in the North. Inform the students of Lawrence’s connection to Seattle. He moved to Seattle in 1970 to teach art at the University of Washington and made this area his permanent home. His work is displayed at local museums and public buildings. He died in Seattle in 2000. Migrate means to extend a "habitat gradually from an old into a new region" and "to move from one country, place, or locality to another."

6 Jacob Lawrence Born in 1917 in New Jersey
His parents moved from the south to make a better life In New York, he learned about African American history and art Gained a reputation as a history painter Commissioned to paint the Great Migration series Taught art at the University of Washington Jacob Lawrence was born in Atlantic City, NJ in He was the son of parents who were born in Virginia and South Carolina. His parents moved to the North prior to Jacob's (he was called "Jake") birth in an effort to make a better life for themselves and their future children. When his mother (his father left the family) was unable to find work in Atlantic City, she was forced to leave Jake in the care of other families until she was able to care for him herself. Finally, at the age of 13 years old, his mother was able to move Lawrence to Harlem, NY to live with her. It was in Harlem that Lawrence learned about African American heroes and heroines in history and about art and color. Shortly after portraying African American heroes/heroines, such as Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman, in a series of paintings, Jacob Lawrence quickly gained the reputation as a history painter. It was because of this reputation that he was given a grant, in 1940, to paint a series of paintings depicting the story of the Great Migration, for which Jacob Lawrence became famous. This series was completed in 1941 when Lawrence was only 23 years old. He continued to paint historical events and snapshots of modern life in a way that both taught and entertained the viewer at the same time. He also spent much of his life teaching art at many colleges and universities, including the University of Washington, which prompted him and his wife to move to Seattle and make it their permanent home. Jacob Lawrence died in 2000, at the age of 82. He is described as "the first black artist to achieve prominence in what was still a largely segregated art world and society as a whole. For the past six decades he has remained the most celebrated African-American painter, past or present."

7 Events leading to the Great Migration-1
In the south, much of the land is rural farmland After slavery was abolished, many slaves stayed to work the land The were not paid well and so were too poor to own land  Contributing Factors Leading to the Great Migration In Harlem, Lawrence was surrounded by African American individuals and families who had traveled from the Southern states to the North in search of a better life. These neighbors and acquaintances shared their stories with Lawrence, starting when he was a young boy. These stories, along with his parents' own migration from Virginia and South Carolina, influenced him greatly and became part of his identity as a black person in America. In the Southern states, much of the land was rural (farmland). Beginning in the 1600's, slaves were brought from Africa to work these farmlands. Although slavery was abolished in 1865, with the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, most African Americans (90%) remained in the southern states to work the land. These farms, however, were owned by wealthy white people, and because African Americans were not able to buy the land on which they worked, many African American tenant farmers (or sharecroppers) were unable to make enough money to feed their families. This is often termed, "economic slavery."

8 Events leading to the Great Migration-2
Pests and floods ruined crops Panel 9: “They left because the boll weevil had ravaged the cotton crop.” Children worked in the fields with their parents Panel 24: “The children were forced to work in the fields. They could not go to school.” In addition to being underpaid, the farms on which African Americans families depended for their livelihood were threatened by environmental factors as well. Great floods and an agricultural pest called the boll weevil resulted in many ruined crops, and, consequently, many starving African American families. Most African American children were not encouraged to go to school beyond the 6th grade, because their parents needed them to work on the farms to help support the family. In addition, the schools that they did attend had few resources to provide them with a good education. As a result, African Americans in the South had little opportunity to educate themselves and enter into professions that were better paying and more respected.

9 Events leading to the Great Migration-3
In the south, they experienced discrimination Panel 14: “For African Americans there was no justice in the southern courts.” Panel 19: “There had always been discrimination.” In addition to living in poverty, African Americans were discriminated against in the South. Not only were they not able to vote, they were also not able to: use the same water fountains, eat in the same restaurants, or ride in the same train cars as white people. Even worse, many African Americans were beaten, arrested, and sometimes killed by white people in the South.

10 Events leading to the Great Migration-4
World War I changed industry in the north Many white men went off to war making a shortage of workers Industrial production increased Panel 1: "During the World War there was a great migration North by Southern Negroes." ( ) When World War I began two things happened that also contributed to the Great Migration: 1) many white men went off to fight in that war, resulting in a shortage of workers for the factories and industries in the Northern states and 2) industrial production increased. As a result, factory owners looked to the South to increase their labor force and sent representatives to the Southern states to encourage African Americans to move north. They also published advertisements in African American newspapers with a similar message: moving to the North will give you a better life - better pay, better living conditions, better education, and better treatment. As a result of these four factors (economic slavery, ruined crops, poor education, and violence) many African American families decided that the promise of a better life in the North was worth leaving the rural areas of the South.

11 The Great Migration

12 The Great Migration- 1 1 million African Americans moved north
 They moved mostly to Chicago, Detroit, New York City, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus Panel 36: “Migrants arrived in Chicago, the gateway to the west.” Panel 45: "They arrived in Pittsburgh, one of the great industrial centers of the North, in large numbers." The Great Migration: ~ ~1930 Between 1900 and 1930 the United States experienced the largest movement of African Americans since slavery. This migration of approximately one million people was central to the development of African American culture and political freedom. It has been described as the "defining event of the 20th century for blacks and for the United States in general." African Americans living in the South made the difficult decision to leave their hometowns on trains headed for northern cities - primarily: Chicago, Detroit, New York City, Pittsburgh Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus. By 1920, 40% of the northern African American population lived in these eight cities.

13 Great Migration- 2 Moving to the north did improve their lives
Voting, education, empowerment, and community Moving to the North did result in some improvements to the life of African Americans: 1) they were able to vote, which eventually allowed them a chance to exert modest political influence, 2) there was a decrease in the amount of discrimination that they suffered, 3) it represents the first time in history that large groups of African Americans moved and took charge of their lives, and 4) there was a new opportunity for churches and community organizations to help the settlers to find employment, housing, medical treatment and educational facilities. These churches and community organizations became strong bonding forces within the African American neighborhoods. Panel 58: “In the north, the African American had more educational opportunities.” Panel 59: “In the north, they had the freedom to vote.”

14 Life in the north also had its challenges
The Great Migration- 3 Life in the north also had its challenges Housing became scarce Discrimination Panel 49: “They found discrimination in the north. It was a different kind.” However, there were several realities to the migration that the African Americans did not anticipate, and that did not coincide with their expectations of life in the North: 1) finding a place to live became increasingly difficult as whites worked to restrict newly arrived African Americans to existing black neighborhoods that were already saturated with prior migrants (this led to overcrowding, disease and an increase in crime); 2) discrimination in the North did exist, although it was rooted in custom, rather than law, and 3) African Americans still experienced discrimination in employment: they were relegated to unskilled or semiskilled (and thus, lower paying) positions.

15 The Migration Series 60 paintings done all at the same time, color by color Paintings numbered and with captions to tell a story Style called expressive cubism Panel 3: “ From every southern town, migrants left by the hundreds to travel north.” Jacob Lawrence's sixty paintings of the Great Migration shows both the expectations and the realities of the African American migration to the North. Jacob Lawrence began painting the Migration Series in 1941 and finished in the same year. The series consists of 60 panels depicting the migration of African Americans from the South to the North. The style of his paintings is often referred to "expressive cubism". Prior to beginning to paint, Lawrence conducted detailed research about the Great Migration, in addition to listening to the stories of the people in his neighborhood, in Harlem, New York. He wanted to clearly explain/depict why African Americans were leaving the South, and the injustice, strife, struggle, change, hope, ambition and beauty that they experienced in the process. Lawrence approached this project in a way that other artists had never done before. He painted all 60 paintings at the same time, color by color. He started with one color, such as red, and painted all the red sections on the 60 different panels. He would then move to blue-green or orange, or yellow. This was unprecedented in the art world, where artists usually painted one panel at a time, moving from one area to another on the canvas, rather than from one color to another color. Each of the 60 panels is numbered and sequenced by scene with an accompanying script. In this way, Lawrence was able to let the narrative of his paintings and the text "teach, entertain, and sing." The series begins and end in a train station. In between, they show what the expectations of African Americans were of their lives in the North, and what the realities (and disappointments) of that life actually were. His goal was not to romanticize life in the South, or the journeys North, but to clearly show the conditions under which people, like his parents and his neighbors, had to live. Through his 60 panels, he allowed these individuals to speak to the public about their experiences...what they gained and what they lost during, and as a result, of the Migration. Unlike many artists and artworks, which take decades to gain notoriety, the Migration Series by Jacob Lawrence was an immediate success. The panels were quickly published in Fortune Magazine and two different museums purchased half of the 60 panels. The series has been exhibited at numerous museums and gone on national tours to great acclaim.

16 Story Art Whose story is he telling? How does he show the people?
How does he show objects? Panel 31: “Migrants found improved housing when they arrived north.” Panel 60: “And the migrants kept coming.” Who are the people migrating? What types of jobs did they have in the South? Why are they leaving the South? What were they hoping to find in the North? How would the students feel about living in an environment where they were treated unfairly? NOTE: The students should be familiar with struggles against discrimination and segregation faced by, for example, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. The students could make the connection that the people in Lawrence’s pictures experienced the same type of segregation and unfair laws. How did they travel (name the many different ways)? How was the journey...long and difficult or short and easy? How would it feel to have some family members go while others had to stay behind? What jobs were available in the North? How were their lives better? What problems did they still face? Do you think the unfair treatment continued in the North (to a lesser extent?)? How do you think it felt for an African American to be able to vote for the first time in the North? Do the people look realistic? (His human figures are not realistic; the people are very exaggerated with simple, angular, geometric shapes. Form is simplified and detail is suppressed in order to articulate the essential facts of the “story” in the painting). In Lawrence’s own words: “I seem to gravitate to geometric forms. It is like opening a book of geometry; I may not understand the formula but I love the beauty of line...” The viewpoints of the paintings in the series is that of someone in the midst of the action. He portrays the migration as something we witness ourselves, as if we are one of the migrants on the train platform or one of the newly settled African Americans in the North waiting in line to vote. For Jacob Lawrence, the significance and purpose of his Migration series was to educate. He wanted African Americans to recognize the impact that the Migration had on the entire nation and realize their "contribution to history" and to let others know it as well.

17 What kinds of colors does he use?
Panel 5: “Migrants were advanced passage on the railroads, paid for by northern industries.” Panel 39: “ Railroad platforms were piled high with luggage.” Note the use of primary colors, with a fairly limited color scheme. The colors that Lawrence employed were generally bright and festive colors, such as blue-green, orange, yellow, and gray-brown. His choice of color was influenced by the world around him, in Harlem. In an effort to bring some vibrancy into their otherwise difficult lives, people in Harlem often painted their apartments and stores in bright, primary colors. Lawrence has said that he was not inspired by other artists, or other artwork, but rather by the streets around him. Also, the bright colors and patterns convey the hopeful expectations that the migrants felt as they made the trip North. His observation of his world translated into a "kaleidoscope of pattern, color, movement and design.“ Often, the faces of the African American migrants are not clearly defined; nor are they depicted with different shades of brown. Even their gender is not made clear. Lawrence did this an effort to present an image of the African American as part of one whole, one community. There is no one hero/heroine in the Great Migration. The subjects are just normal people...people like those he found in his neighborhood in Harlem. They were a group of people acting as a whole, with a collective will. The people depicted in Lawrence's series took on a "heroic dimension beyond class or gender distinctions.“ Jacob Lawrence: “I never learned color in an academic way...So this may have something to do with [my] expressing myself in a very limited palette...Limiting yourself to these colors...forces you to be more inventive...and out of that you could get a stronger work than you might get otherwise.”

18 Step 1- Choose scenes Tell a story of migration by choosing 2 different scenes Life in the South Journey north Life in the north Scenes should include people (one, a family, or more) Simple shapes (a person can be a circle and rectangles) Big shapes (no fine details) Sketch 2 scenes on scratch paper Explain to the students that they will create two pictures depicting the Great Migration. They should choose two different settings from the following: 1) rural South; 2) journey North; or 3) life in the North. For example, their two pictures could depict: 1) life working on a Southern farm; and 2) life working in the Northern city, OR 1) traveling to the North; and 2) housing in the North. Emphasize that they are telling a story. They might think about a story they’d like to tell about an individual and his/her family, or a child and the child’s family (perhaps told from the child’s perspective). Their pictures should be of their own imagining but must include people (one person, a family, a large number) in at least one picture. Remind the students that the people don’t need to look realistic (Jacob Lawrence’s people did not), and they could use a circle for a head, rectangle for a body, long rectangles or triangles for arms and legs; a long rectangle for a train). Fine details are not necessary and were not part of Lawrence’s artwork. It is recommended that you do a brief demonstration to show the students how to create pictures using simple shapes with few details. You can draw with black sharpie or crayon but painting is not necessary. Remind them several times to keep shapes and scenes simple (no fine details) AND to DRAW BIG to fill the page...but remember this is hard for kids, and no matter what you say, not all will follow this instruction! The document camera works well to show the class how to draw. Give each student two pieces of scratch paper. Give them NO MORE than 5 minutes to brainstorm a design for each picture. Explain that they just need an overall plan (especially the setting) and should not start sketching elaborate details.

19 Step 2- Canvas Paper Names on the back (white side)
Paper in landscape orientation Draw scenes in pencil Trace in black crayon

20 Step 3- Captions 2 yellow strips Write names on back in pencil
Write simple sentences to describe your scenes Get ok from a parent Trace in sharpie pen

21 Part 2 - Step 4- Tempera paint
Lawrence used only simple, bright colors Black, white, brown Red, blue, yellow, green

22 Step 5- Mounting and display
When finished, the pictures are glued down on the poster board with the corresponding descriptive sentences. Leads may need to do the mounting later (outside of class time) because the paint might be too wet.

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