Abstract or Synopsis/Unit Design:

Students will learn the history, techniques, and design elements of two art styles and ultimately create an art piece that combines the two forms. The first style is called formline which is a Native American Northwest Coast art form that comes from totemic carvings on three-dimensional objects, and the second style is a type of abstract art called Orphism which has its origins from Cubism. For reference, students will study the Native artwork in the school and nearby schools or areas that display formline art. There will be an opportunity for a guest artist to visit the class. A final project will be created by the students that combine the two techniques. Student-led critiques will follow each project.

Stage 1: Desired Results

Place-Based Objectives

  1. Occurs on-site and in the community
  2. Focuses on local themes, systems, and content
  3. Personally relevant to students
  4. Supported by partnerships with local community entities (engagement with the community)
  5. Interdisciplinary
  6. Serves as a foundation for regional and global issues (expand and transfer)

Cultural Standards for Students

A. Culturally-knowledgeable students are well-grounded in the cultural heritage and traditions of their community.

  • Students who meet this cultural standard are able to reflect through their own actions the critical role that the local heritage language plays in fostering a sense of who they are and how they understand the world around them.

B. Culturally-knowledgeable students are able to build on the knowledge and skills of the local cultural community as a foundation from which to achieve personal and academic success throughout life.

  • Students who meet this cultural standard are able to make effective use of the knowledge, skills and ways of knowing from their own cultural traditions to learn about the larger world in which they live.
  • Culturally-Knowledgeable students demonstrate an awareness and appreciation of the relationships and processes of interaction of all elements in the world around them.
  • Students who meet this cultural standard are able to recognize and build upon the inter-relationships that exist among the spiritual, natural, and human realms in the world around them, as reflected in their own cultural traditions and beliefs as well as those of others.

Alaska State Standards

State Standards (standards that are listed FOCUS of the unit – not simply addressed, but thoroughly engaged)

Alaska State Standards for Art

A. Create: A student should be able to imagine and develop artistic ideas and work. A student who meets the content standard should:

  1. Generalize and conceptualize artistic ideas and work;
  2. Organize and develop artistic ideas and work; and
  3. Refine and complete artistic work

B. Present: A student should be able to interpret and share artistic work. A student who meets the content standard should:

  1. Select, analyze and interpret artistic works, including those from diverse cultural traditions, for performance, presentation and/or production;
  2. Develop and refine artistic work for performances, presentations and/or productions; and 
  3. Perform, present and/or produce artistic work.

C. Respond: A student should be able to understand and evaluate how the arts convey meaning. A student who meets the content standard should:

  1. Recognize and analyze artistic works, including those from diverse cultural traditions;
  2. Interpret intent and meaning in artistic works; and
  3. Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work.

D. Connect: A student should be able to relate artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context. A student who meets the content standard should:

  1. Relate, synthesize, and express both knowledge and personal experiences as a way to participate in the arts; and
  2. Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical contexts to deepen understanding.

Understanding & Essential Questions

Overarching Understandings (big ideas, concepts)

Students will understand that….

  • When creating an art illustration that is based from real objects, there is a certain amount of personal interpretation that distorts from the original subject despite every effort to maintain its integrity
  • Art is all about perception and interpretation, it is personal and unique to each individual
  • Purposeful distortions can lead to artistic expression; and
  • Accidental distortions can set the stage for unplanned visions of artistic creation.

Essential Questions (stated from the student’s point of view)

Content specific Questions…

  • How can an artist create a 2-dimensional (2-D) illustration from a 3-dimensional (3-D) object?
  • What techniques can an artist use to accurately represent a complete 3-D object from all perspectives onto a 2-D format?
  • How can I combine a distorted and altered representation of a form with a more accurate illustration and keep the underlying structure of both intact?
  • How can I apply the technique of combining two or more different subjects or ideas into one unified product while still preserving each concept?

Knowledge (what knowledge will the students acquire as a result of this unit?)

Students will know…

  • What Northwest Coast formline art is and its origins;
  • What design elements are used in formline and the rules on how they are used;
  • What orphism is and how it relates to Cubism and abstract art;
  • Some of the history and origins of Orphism; and
  • Basic Tlingit language vocabulary pertaining to this unit.

Skills (what skills will students acquire as a result of this unit?)

Students will be able to…..

  • Create a basic Northwest Coast formline design and design elements;
  • Identify some of the formline art figures around town and what they represent;
  • Create the basic elements of Orphism art and explain its history;
  • Give constructive critique on other classmates artwork;
  • Students should be comfortable giving and receiving critiques; every student should go over constructive critiques they may have received, and should be able to apply them in a positive and constructive manner;
  • Listen for and speak basic Tlingit language vocabulary.

Stage 2: Assessment Evidence

Transfer Tasks

Performance assessments: Complex tasks, or tasks that ask students to apply the knowledge beyond the classroom setting, ideally in the real world; some are at least at Depth of Knowledge – DOK – Levels 3 or 4.

During this unit students will learn about and create an original two-dimensional art piece that will be a combination of two different art styles. The two main art styles incorporated are Northwest Coast Tlingit Formline and a type of abstract art called Orphism. Students will study these two styles and apply the techniques on two individual art pieces and then, using some of both methods on the final project. Students will use observation, comparison, estimation, symmetry, precision, color theory, and creativity in the production of these lessons. Students will learn some Tlingit phrases and words throughout this unit as they create and learn about the local culture that this art originates from.

At the completion of this unit, students should be able to identify formline art and describe some of the elements in it on such things as totem poles, regalia, jewelry, boats, clothing, carvings, and many other expressions of art. Students should also be able to recognize some Tlingit word and phrases when heard around their community from others and may be able to engage in and with those that speak Tlingit. At completion, students should begin to think about how to combine two different ideas or concepts into one complementary product. It is a hope that students will also leave this unit with a better appreciation of how complex formline design and other art can be and the connection that it has to the Earth, and the people and animals that live on it.

Evaluation Criteria: (e.g., spelling, grammar, accuracy, completeness of research, etc.)

Through this unit students will be studying and creating Formline, and constructing and learning about Orphism that will lead up to a combined or “mash-up” of the two art styles.

Observations of knowledge and understanding will be made daily by the teacher and students on the progress of the two-dimensional work that is produced by the class.

New vocabulary pertaining to this unit will be recorded in the student’s sketchbook and a few quizzes will be given to check for understanding.

Sketchbooks and daily work will be evaluated by the teacher based on completeness, accuracy, effort, growth of skills, originality, neatness, and presentation.

Graded Assignments/Assessments (list the assignments that will lead to a grade)

  1. Formline sketchbook in-class assignment one
  2. Formline sketchbook in-class assignment two
  3. Formline drawing poster
  4. Formline drawing homework
  5. Orphism sketchbook in-class assignment
  6. Quiz
  7. Formline/Orphism “mash-up” poster final project
  8. Presentation and class critique participation

* Assessment rubric attached to the end of this unit plan (Table 1)

Stage 3: Learning Plan

Learning Experiences (in order of implementation)

I. Formline/Orphism Mash-Up History

  1. Prior knowledge assessment
  2. Presentation and slide show
  3. Vocabulary intro
  4. Discussion

II. Formline Basics-Application

  1. Formline elements explained
  2. Opportunity for guest artist
  3. Incorporate Tlingit Language – Link to Book- Say it in Tlingit by Richard and Nora Dauenhauer
    1. 1. Kooxéedaa – pencil
    2. 2. Kashxeet – draw, paint, write
    3. 3. X’ úx’- paper
    4. 1-10 numbers
    5. 5. Colors
    6. 6. Etc.
  4. Step-by-step drawing – Link to Sealaska Heritage Institute Northwest Coast Formline Design “How to”
    1. 1. Ovoid
    2. 2. U-shape
    3. 3. Trigon
  5. Salmon-trout head drawing (Fig. 1)
    1. 1. Ovoid
    2. 2. U-shape
    3. 3. Trigon
    4. 4. Connecting them together/learning the rules
    5. 5. Color use/application
  6. Raven or Eagle Drawing
    1. 1. Start similar to Salmon-trout head
    2. 2. Add U-shape beak
    3. 3. Add tongue
    4. 4. Add head feathers
Fig.2 Ovoid Formline

III. Formline field trip

More to come…