Teaching Contemporary Art
With loss of educational funding and the emphasis on testable PSSA subjects the arts are constantly under scrutiny. The Arts are under pressure to prove their relevance. Adding Contemporary Art to an art curriculum is a great way to make art more relevant to today's youth. New art is made everyday so there are unlimited artists available to use as inspiration; artists from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. Contemporary Art includes more varieties of media including many examples of mixed-media and digital arts. The subject matter of Contemporary art responds to more relevant social issues and current events which are more relatable to students. Generally speaking, the colors and styles are also more appealing to youth. One of the biggest reasons Contemporary Art should be added to an art curriculum is it shows students that art is not just a thing of the past; it is the present and the future. Students have opportunities to connect to living artists locally and virtually.
Click on the picture to download lesson plans.
Another way to incorporate Contemporary Artists in the art curriculum is to include them with traditional artists in an artist power point. Students can then pick and chose the artists and the styles that interested them to create a series of independent projects.
Click here to download sample Independent Project Packet.
Click here to download Artist Inspiration Power Point.
Books and Videos about Contemporary Artists
The instinct to cling to the safety of tradition is one of the biggest reasons more contemporary art curriculums are not adopted. It is important to recognize that just because a curriculum introduces contemporary art works does not mean that they need to forget about those historically significant traditional artists that helped make the art world what it is today.
There are several ways to incorporate these well-known traditional artists into classroom routines, visual references and lesson plans.
-Using names of traditional artists to label tables in the classroom
(Click here to download sample table signs)
-Using traditional artist as inspiration for the contemporary artists
-Comparing and contrasting traditional and contemporary artists
PAEA Conference PowerPoint
List of Contemporary Artists
Students can easily relate to themes of animals and nature because they see them everyday. It is something that appeals to them.
John Nieto-Contemporary Native American artist paints bright colored animals.
Michel Keck- female Contemporary abstract mixed-media artist who utilizes bright patterned collage papers.
Heather Galler- female Contemporary folk artist, paints animals.
George Rodrigue- Cajun painter and illustrator of "Blue Dog" character.
Peter Diem-Dutch painter, paints abstract cows
William Wegman- American photographer and filmmaker, photographs his dogs.
Laurel Burch- Female commercial cat designer
Robert Bradford- found object animal sculptor, also creates 3-D boxes.
Sandy Skogland-installation artist
Rick Bartow- Native American Printmaker
Celebrities, cartoons, and commercial products
Burton Morris-a contemporary Pennsylvania Pop Artist, paints Pop Culture objects using bright colors and radiating black outlines.
Peter Max- Pop Artist, paints celebrities, Statue of Liberty and hearts.
Romero Britto- Brazilian Pop Artist, paints flowers, hearts, animals and celebrities.
Chuck Close- American portrait painter, that uses a grid system and color theory.
Banksy- British street artist.
Milton Glaser- American graphic designer, colorful silhouette celebrity portraits.
Kaws- Cartoonist and street artist.
Bill Hall- Colorful sports artist.
Jim Dine- American printmaker, paints colorful hearts.
Miriam Schapiro- Female Folk Artist involved in the decorative and pattern movement.
One thing students enjoy is freedom from the representational. They really enjoy art that is playful and colorful and allows for different interpretations. Students are usually attracted to large abstract paintings that focus on shapes and colors.
Elizabeth Murray-American artist’s large sculptural paintings are very bright and childlike. The artwork is exciting and the organic shapes and rhythm.
Reginald Laurent- African-American abstract painter.
Frank Stella- American painter and printmaker .
Dale Chihuly- American glass artist.
Ani Hoover- Female American abstract artist, paints circles.
Heather Smith Jones- Abstract mixed-media artist, watercolor with ink patterns.
Students also enjoy working with issues of personal identity.
Frank Warren- creator of community mail art project Post-Secret
Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson- African American mixed media artist
Cindy Sherman- Female photographer
Frank Big Bear- Native American artist
Jillian Kogan- California flag artist.
Craig Ward- American graphic designer, typography
Howard Finster- Folk artist, portraits, animals, pop objects with text and patterns
Karla Gerard- Folk artist, paints houses and trees
Beverly Buchanan- African American artist, creates gestural oil pastel houses and flowers.
Faith Ringgold- African American artist, creates story quilts