My Body, My Biography – Winter 2010
Kelda Van Patten
Hillsboro High School, Hillsboro, Oregon
Kelda Van Patten teaches at Hillsboro High School in Hillsboro, Oregon. In addition to teaching Introduction to Studio Art (Art1) and Foundations in Studio Art (Art2), she also teaches Ceramics. As part of her participation in the 2010-2011 Art21 Educators program, she is currently planning a unit about the body in art.
I am currently planning and writing a curriculum called “My Body. My Biography.” The essential question for this unit asks, “How do we describe and define our bodies biologically, socially, and personally?” I will be teaching this curricular unit to my intermediate studio art class this winter.
This unit includes studying work by William Kentridge, specifically his animated film, History of the Main Complaint (1996). I want to show this film and discuss how the artist addresses the human form to express emotions, such as guilt. I want students to focus on how Kentridge is using the body as a vehicle to communicate larger ideas about violence within society and its impact on a shared cultural memory.
After viewing History of the Main Complaint as well as segments from William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible, I plan to discuss with my students how Kentridge uses drawings of an ailing human body to communicate an idea or story and how he also relates objects to the body. My students will then conduct a visual investigation of their body through drawing. They will generate five to ten drawings of a body part, body issue, or bodily system that they are interested in exploring through a variety of perspectives. Through the process of making these drawings, they will look for stories associated with body memory. Then students will generate another series of drawings of objects related to their chosen body memory. Through construction, deconstruction, and juxtaposition strategies, the drawings will be layered to suggest a visual journey into body memory. Students will continue exploring these ideas by making a series of three-dimensional clay objects, resulting in a collaborative class installation exhibited in the high school gallery.