Good News: You’ve Got Awesome Powers!*

*Bad news: You’ve still got human flaws.

The way you draw the eyebrows can really change the expression on a face. Is there anybody here who can really make your eyebrows dance? Show me what you’ve got!

Teaching Artist Ayla Rexroth with 6th-grade students at Hamilton Grange Middle School

Students giggle as they make funny faces for Creative Art Works Teaching Artist Ayla Rexroth, who is showing her sixth-grade class at Hamilton Grange Middle School the basics of drawing people.

Using a document projector, Ayla demonstrates how bodies can be broken down into simple lines and shapes. “Once you have the basic shapes, you can add details, like muscles, clothing, and hair.”

In addition to the mechanics of drawing, students in this art class are also learning about the foundations of western culture, archetypes in literature, and ancient history. CAW’s in-school painting and drawing class at HGMS are aligned with the humanities curriculum.

How can an imperfect character make the world a better place?

Inspiration for this lesson came from ancient Greek red-figure pottery

Inspiration for this lesson came from ancient Greek red-figure pottery

Greek gods, goddesses, and demigods had awesome powers, but they also had human flaws. They could be jealous, vain, short-tempered, and egotistical. Over the next few weeks, students will be creating characters with a mixture of powers and flaws to be the protagonist of their own myths about New York City. The idea is to show that even an imperfect person can overcome their weaknesses and affect positive change in the world.

As an introduction to this drawing project, students first looked at images of Ancient Greek red-figure pottery from the 5th century BCE. Even though they are highly stylized, the characters are easily identified by their costumes and props. For example, a woman wearing a helmet and armor is the goddess Athena. A man with a club and a lion skin is Hercules. In upcoming classes, students will be challenged to paint figures with costumes and props that telegraph their qualities, both positive and negative.

If you could have an incredible power, what would it be? And what would be your greatest short-coming?

Not just for Humanities Classes

A 6th-grade student uses an artists’s model to capture a pose

A 6th-grade student uses an artists’s model to capture a pose

While ELA and social studies classes are the most obvious fits for integrated arts programs, any subject matter can benefit from these classes. For example, CAW just began its third year of offering an Illustration Lab in conjunction with the Honors Anatomy and Physiology Class at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School.


A gallery of student work