Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Play the Culture

The following is an assignment for the UF grad program in art education.
course 6641 Contemporary Issues in Art Education!

Lesson plan for Visual Culture Discussion Forum

Since I present my educational programs in a museum environment my lesson is geared toward the use of the MIM collection. Focusing on the guitar gallery and the adjacent museum orientation gallery.

Guitar gallery MIM
Orientation gallery MIM.

A Little background.
Guests enter the museum obtain their wireless headset system. They can watch a six minute film about the museum near the orientation gallery which focuses on the artistry of instrument making. In the middle between the theater, and the main museum galleries is a u-shaped room depicting the whole history of the guitar. From the oldest known guitar to a modern heavy metal doubleneck electric a guest can see the full evolution of the instrument. In the adjacent room sitars, ouds, and erhu are examples of near guitar Asian cousins of the European instrument.
Cross cultural Aspects
The opportunity to talk about cultural transmission the way instruments traveled the Silk Road into the far east made it to America is unique chance to discuss ways in which the world is connected historically through musical instruments.
Visual Culture themes
Instruments are handmade or manufactured functional works of design. Often inlayed with precious stone, polished shell, or metal they are fanciful works that can be used as well as viewed. The museum with so many instruments hanging on walls and simply viewed promotes the idea that someone dreamt the things up brought them to life.
The plan
A busload of kids arrives they are broken into groups some take the standard tour some go to the theater to watch the orientation film and the final group comes to me at the orientation gallery. Addressing some of the near guitar instruments and the hand crafted quality of them, that they come from far off countries, how the influenced the guitar and focusing on the visual elements the design aspects of the instruments, a foundation for the program is presented. Moving into the guitar gallery familiar electric guitars are seen a humorous display case exhibiting an air guitar and some very old instruments are visible. In keeping with the ideas of visual culture items that are contemporary and in truth the kids might even have at home are contrasted with the old court instruments of the Renaissance and the folk instruments of the Appalachia.
What do the instruments say?
After presenting some history behind the instruments a discussion is opened up. First about the visual elements why are they pretty or ugly how are they appealing or boring. What does that mean? The court instruments are incredibly fancy the old Spanish village instruments simple plain, opening a chance to discuss class and the stratification society historically.
What do these instruments symbolize? Prestige, homespun entertainment, race, gender?
Moving to the electric guitars a conversation is presented over the fight between Gibson guitars versus Fender. Using printed visual aids the contrasting ad campaigns are presented (a surfer with a playing Fender while riding a wave vs a concert hall with Les Paul in a tuxedo playing a gold gilded instrument). Again how are things marketed? What does a gold plated instrument mean vs a plain beat up Fender?
Modifications are everything.
Finally a beautifully hand painted instrument is presented to state that a guitar can be a canvas.

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