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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Teaching Social Studies Using Beauford's Art

I recently came across a lesson plan for 5th grade students in Knox County Schools* that teaches the Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance through having students create self-portraits inspired by Beauford's self-portraits.

Students participating in this lesson had been previously introduced to the Harlem Renaissance and Beauford's artwork. In this lesson, they were instructed to use pencils and colored pencils "to create simple self-portraits that show symmetry and personality through exaggerated features....This self-portrait can reflect personality, in the style of Beauford Delaney, by drawing facial features of different sizes and with exaggerated emphasis." The students used colored pencils to "map out" areas in their portraits where they would apply paint in a subsequent lesson.

Here are some examples of Beauford's self-portraiture, which illustrate the exaggerated features that the lesson plan asks the students to emulate.

Self-portrait
(1944) Oil on canvas
Art Institute of Chicago
© Estate of Beauford Delaney,
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Self-portrait
(1972) Gouache on paper
Collection of David Leeming
© Estate of Beauford Delaney,
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Auto-portrait
(1965) Oil on canvas
Whitney Museum of American Art
© Estate of Beauford Delaney,
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

This lesson is described as "a cross-curricular art project featuring 5th grade Social Studies standards..." It is a wonderful example of arts integration!

*Knox County Schools is the school district that operates all public schools in Knox County, Tennessee. It is headquartered in Beauford's hometown of Knoxville.

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