Our students in 3rd-5th grade created narrative collages inspired by the art of William H. Johnson. Some students created scenes that were highly imaginative, others created scenes that were influenced by everyday life. Students used construction paper, scissors, glue, and crayons. Our goal was to create a scene that tells a story, shows visual details of the setting of that story, and shows a figure/character in motion. I was really impressed with how students met the artwork criteria in unique ways!
William H. Johnson is most famous for his brightly colored paintings from the 1930’s and 1940’s. After growing up in South Carolina, W.H.J. moved to New York City to study art. Eventually, he relocated Europe to escape racial discrimination from the NYC art world. His paintings include a diverse range of subject matter, including scenes of city life, wartime, rural farms, neighborhood interactions, and historical references. During his career, his paintings were often criticized for being to “simplistic” or “child like”, however his paintings are now widely celebrated.
You can visit a large collection of W.H.J. paintings at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. W.H.J. is one of my favorite painters and I would definitely recommend seeing his paintings in person!
If you want to learn more about William H. Johnson, these two sites are worth exploring: http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/online/johnson/slideshow_index.html
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