Tuesday, May 6, 2008

More from SAAM: Interactive Art

In addition to the multimodal "George Catlin: An Encounter of Two Cultures," which I posted about recently, the Smithsonian American Art Museum offers other great American art resources, like explorable paintings, video footage on art in the White House, and virtual tours of contemporary art. A few standouts from SAAM's "Interactives" page include "del Corazon," a bilingual site on Latino/a art; "Restoration of an Artwork;" and "Monotypes," a series of videos on the monotype process.

del Corazon can be viewed in English or Spanish, great for blending art and language study. The site has a teachers page, Profesores, with downloadable posters and guides and resources for using del Corazon with students. Artistas features six videos of artist discussing their work and personal identity; this month's Artistas features 1 Latino and 5 Latinas. Twelve artworks in Galleria attempt to convey the Latino/a experience in the U.S. Passing your mouse pointer over each mini-painting on the page reveals the name of the painting. One click brings up a bio of the artist and background on the specific cultural experiences and beliefs that contribute to the painting. That's just scratching the surface because there is a lot more available at del Corazon.

Restoration of an Artwork: Conservator in Action features a three-minute video in which SAAM conservator Ann Creager discusses and restores "Portrait of a Man" by William H. Johnson. The video compresses "several months" of work into a short video. (The Quicktime plugin is needed to view the video.) Creager demonstrates some of the techniques she used. This one is quite short but is very powerful; unless you can get your students to SAAM's Lunder Conservation Center in D.C., this may be their one chance to see what painstaking and loving work goes into restoring a painting.

Monotypes offers a series of short videos that demonstrate this printmaking technique. What makes this great for middle school is that monotyping takes no special expertise or equipment and can be "made by drawing with printer's ink or oil paint on a smooth surface such as glass or a metal plate." The image is then transferred to paper using a printing press or something as simple as the back of a spoon, your hand, or "even the wringer of an old washing machine." This could be a great project for an art class. You can see the full movie as streaming video, which requires the Vivo plugin, or watch the individual clips in or out of sequence depending on your students, needs or projects.

Check out SAAM's other great interactive offerings. Especially interesting and great for individual study or enrichment is the series "Speaking of Pictures" which lets students learn about particular details of a painting by moving a mouse cursor over the image.

SOURCE: "Interactives" 2008
photo courtesy of Robert ___T, used under this Creative Commons license

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