In this lesson, students will view the segment on artist and educator Therman Statom in the TEACHERS episode. The episode highlights how Statom encourages students’ investigation of their heritage, their understanding of self, and their connections to others as topics worthy of study in school. After viewing the segment, students will discuss various aspects of Statom’s teaching and his artwork. After considering Statom’s goals in teaching, students will locate a family member they would like to present to the school community through a constructed artwork. The studio portion of the lesson involves working with glass or with transparent plastic sheeting, and with imagery that is representative as well as symbolic, to create a portrait of their chosen family member. Working in small groups, students will offer feedback on each other’s projects. Finally, the groups will decide how to curate their section of the display area in school in which all of the groups’ portraits will be arranged.
…The kids will have a connection to an educational institution that will change their point of view of what happens when they go to school.
— Therman Statom
Grade Level: 9-12
Estimated Time: Eight 45 minute class periods of discussion, research, and design
TEACHERS highlights artists committed to sharing skills and passion for craft with a new generation. Therman Statom (b. 1953) is a glass artist currently living in Omaha, NE. Statom is best known for his painted ladders, houses, chairs, and boxes, constructed out of plate glass, blown glass objects, plywood, and found objects. He studied glass at Pilchuck Glass School and received his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. He holds an MFA from Pratt Institute of Art and Design and has taught at Pilchuck and the University of California, Los Angeles. He has also received commissions for countless permanent large-scale installations, including the Los Angeles Central Public Library and the Toledo Museum of Art. Much of the latter half of Statom’s career has been focused on the importance of educational programming within the arts. He has taken a deep interest in employing workshops as catalysts for social change and, in effect, positively impacting a community. Working directly with the artist himself, adults and children alike share a combined experience of exploring art making via a hands-on experience.
• Teachers can be artists and artists can be teachers.
• The traditional goal of assimilation in schooling can be balanced with recognition and respect of various cultures.
• Artworks can be visual objects that teach and that advocate on behalf of someone or something.
• Experimentation and playfulness in art making can help us develop new forms of expression.
• How do teaching and art making overlap?
• What are the benefits of balancing assimilation in school with recognition and respect of various cultures?
• How can artworks teach? How can artworks advocate on behalf of a person or a culture?
• Why are experimentation and playfulness useful in art making? How can they help us develop new ways of “saying something” meaningful?
• Delineate examples of ways that teaching and art making overlap.
• Describe the benefits of balancing assimilation in school with recognition and respect of various cultures.
• Develop an artwork that teaches the school community about an important family member or figure in the student’s life.
• Experiment and play with ideas and processes to develop a portrait that says something meaningful about the student’s chosen subject.
Advocate, aesthetics, assimilation, colleague, culture, curate, heritage, listicle, medicine wheel, portrait.
Have students share their answers to the worksheet From Assimilation to Advocacy in a group discussion. Have students jot a mini list of family members, past or present, whom they are considering to feature in their project. Extending the idea of family if needed for individual students, they might choose an influential mentor. Students should pick someone they know personally so that they create a link, through the student, to the school.
Worksheet: May I Present…
(two 45 minute class periods and research at home)
Students will brainstorm using the worksheet, followed by five class periods for studio exploration and production.