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Project 2 – American History through Art
Pinney, The Cotters Saturday Night, c. 1815
pen and watercolor: 30.7 x 37.8 cm (12 1/8 x 14 5/8 in.)
The National Gallery of Art
second web project, you will be asked to present, examine, and interpret
a work of American art. With a few exceptions, all of the works were produced
before the Civil War.
of American Art for this project
As you have
seen, the dominant narrative of our country finds itself repeated in history,
literature, and art. As you look at these images, think about how they
represent “America,” its heroes, its ordinary citizens, and
those whose existence the narrative must somehow define or erase, African
American slaves and Native Americans.
think about what kinds of questions you could ask of these images. What
is the “story” that these artists are telling American about
itself? How did we feel about our young democracy? How do some of these
images justify or simplify subjects that we now understand as deeply troubling
and complex? How does the sense of “mission” that began with
the Puritans replay itself in westward expansion? How did America want
to think about “the land” in the early 19th century? All of
the landscape painters on our list were very popular. Why do you think
that Thomas Cole’s sweeping allegories on The Course of Empire and
the Voyage of Life resonated with 19th century America? What aspects of
everyday life did the artists want to portray? How are women presented?
Did you notice that all of the artists on our list are male? How does
an artist like George Catlin resist the erasure or stereotyping of Native
Americans that you see in other artists? Do you think the artists are
reproducing the myth of America or creating it?
For your second project consider the following:
by finding an image of your work of art. You will need
to include in your page the title of your painting/sculpture, the date
of completion, the artist, the life dates of the artist, the medium
(for example, oil on canvas), and the dimensions of the work.
Content! Content! In addition to your image, your page should
contain 300 – 350 words of prose. The most attractive website
is still ineffective if is doesn't provide clear, informative content.
page should include:
– Most of you have never written about a work of art, but all
of you can describe what you see. We'll be talking about this more in
Historical Information – Your reader would appreciate
some historical context about the subject matter of the work, the artist,
or any important events that may have influenced the work. You must
decide what your viewer would find most interesting.
Interpretation – You can give your reader your
own interpretation of the work. What do you think the artist wants the
viewer to see? Does the artist have a particular point of view toward
the subject matter? Is the artist making an argument? Do you think that
you respond differently to the work as a 21st century American than
the original audience would have responded? You are free here to make
any interpretation or associations that you feel are important. There
is not a formulaic answer here. We have so many different examples of
art to consider.
Acknowledgement of Sources – Again, carefully
cite all of your sources for your image and historical content with
in-text parenthetical citations. Conclude your page with a Works Cited
section which lists your sources alphabetically.
Electronic Sources in Your Web Pages
of the work
information about the work – date, artist, medium, dimensions
context – background on artist, events, subject matter
– 350 words of text
of sources for images and text in MLA format
from your menu page to the project, and from your project back to the
tag(s) for your image(s)
to an external website, opening in a new window, giving your viewer
of an image
due – Thursday, October 18
of The Cotters Saturday Night:
Pinney, Eunice. (1770-1849). The Cotters Saturday Night. 1815. Online
image. 2004. The National Gallery of Art. Gift of Edgar William and Bernice
Chrysler Garbisch. 22 September 2004. <http://www.nga.gov/cgi-bin/pinfo?Object=52693+0+none>