Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Roll Over, Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893

Whoever doesn't recognize this painting, raise your hand. (I see one hand, but it's attached to the arm of the class clown, so I disregard that hand.)  

Whoever has never related to the feeling in this painting, raise your hand.  (I see no hands.)

A middle school art teacher in Santa Fe brought in a reproduction of Edvard Munch's powerful, iconic painting and assigned the students to render their own versions in watercolor.  They weren't necessarily to try to reproduce the composition but to reproduce the emotion, and to include a figure.  Here are a few of their paintings...


 The colors in this one are more beautiful in person.  Those rounded tan forms are actually gold metallic.  This young artist has a wonderful sense of color and made the surrounding landscape loom so large behind the figure, perfectly capturing that sense of panic that has made Munch's painting universally accessible.  The  facial features being rendered in stark white contribute to the effect.




 This one reduced the composition to the diagonal lines of the bridge and inserted the figure within those lines, even making the figure's head tilt, as though being pulled by the setting.  An intuitive sense of how diagonal lines can make the viewer feel unsteady seems to be at play.  Does that puff of blue mean the artist ran out of time, or simply knew when to quit?



 Another less-is-more esthetic.  The blue "river," pared down to a slice of color, seems to weigh on the figure's mind.  Just what Munch had in mind.  And what a remarkable capture of the screaming mouth--just like Munch's.


 Here the landscape seems to be transformed into a cartoonish monster, or perhaps a house on fire.  I enjoy the menacing ambiguity.  What do you see?



Another truly beautiful palette, with the addition of decorative starlike designs, and an extravagant use of purple. And still, the figure is anguished in the middle of it all.  Reminds me of how it feels to be sad on a lovely spring day.



 The teacher shared with me that this student asked if he could draw a vehicle.  The teacher said, "Yes, as long as you include a figure."  What an inventive, contemporary take on The Scream.  Isn't the shading on the side of the truck exciting?  My mind reels with interpretations.  Someone has just jumped off the bridge and the screamer is screaming for help, for example.



 I wonder if this artist has a family member who's a park ranger, or has witnessed a park ranger calling for help in an emergency, or simply has invented another very personal, original interpretation of The Scream.



 This artist paid a lot of attention to Munch's composition, with the addition of that big sun sinking behind the hills, just like we see here in northern New Mexico.  Such a perfect detail to conjure that sinking feeling we've all experienced at the end of a less than good day.


I am thoroughly impressed by the work of these students and equally impressed by the assignment of this resourceful teacher.  Middle school is a tough time.  The hormones are kicking into high gear and the peer groups can be menacing.  These paintings tell the story.

54 comments:

Hilary said...

What a great teacher. The art is varied and expressive. Thanks for sharing and offering your take on them. Some of these colour schemes are lovely.. much like your art.

Lee said...

San, it's wonderful that a teacher brought her students to your gallery for an art experience. Those paintings are really cool. Having worked in a middle school I know how few kids choose art as an elective, so it's always great to see the work that the ones who do create. So many of them show real potential. Great post!

Love,
Lee

Kim said...

Hey! Some good coffee break reading here. :) Tom and I have The Scream hanging in our front hall. Totally sums up the emotions this house brings. I think it's the resident ghost causing the turmoil. We like the movement, the turmoil in the painting sparks energy. Many quilters have done this using fabric and thread - it's challenging!

Lori Skoog said...

San...where have you been woman? What a fabulous assignment! I am going to have to do this with my students.

Thanks for stopping by...I was beginning to wonder if you were out of the bloggesphere.

Kim said...

Hello San, you are right this post very much speaks to me. I am very impressed with the course work of these students! Cheers for all involved with this project.

What truly struck me was how these young people actually interpreted this work. As adults it seems as though it is common for us to understand this from an overall exasperated viewpoint (going on for hours, days, weeks, etc.), however these young people are sometimes expressing it as a flash emotion you experience then get over. As you pointed out their color choices and line choices are more playful in relation to the expression.

I don't know about you, but these new renditions of "The Scream" give me a lot more to consider as I reflect on how I respond to life! I think these new artists have a lot to teach us! More of this kind of work would sure make this world a different place, don't you think?

Thanks so much, San! This is wonderful.

Carol said...

Thanks for sharing this wonderful art exhibit! Each student did a fascinating job. Touring the work was kind of cathartic for me. If I wasn't such a "proper lady" (heh heh...) I think that I could enjoy a good scream about now.

And it's good to see you back in Bloggerville!

LauraX said...

Gosh, I miss teaching art to kids...they are so amazingly creative when we don't give too much direction and let them explore and play!!!

Maggie May said...

It was lovely to see the students' work. They are all very expressive in different ways.
Very thought provoking.
Good to see you back.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

La Dolce Vita said...

really intrigued by images 3 and 5... the image behind the figure does look a bit like a house, but I see the house as a metaphor for the soul, standing behind the figure.... on fire yes! thanks for sharing this work San!

chewy said...

A fun post to view. A thought provoking and emotionally stimulating class assignment. Each student interprets the painting differently. - (I see the forest ranger as a lumberjack yelling, "timber".)

My 3 young nieces were finally able to come over to each pick out their Christmas present, one of my paintings. It was very interesting in their reasoning for choosing the painting they each picked. They did not pick the ones I considered my best. One picked a bright pink flower because the colors matched her room. The second chose a whale, the only sea creature I had, because the ocean makes her think of summer vacation. The third selected a bear wearing a beanie cap, just because she liked him.

I've learned not to tell people as to which is my personal favorite or worst favorite. The wonderful thing is that the fans of my art each have their own favorite... for reasons that I cannot begin to guess. What they see and like is based on their own experiences.

The students in your story, they all view the same Munch painting, but they all paint different results.

ellen abbott said...

it's a shame art is being cut from so many schools.

Nick Thomas said...

Ooooh, now I have the Munchies!

Oh, and it would be remiss of me not to say Happy Presidents Pets Day - the day after Presidents Day, as I like to call it. In the US, we love our presidents..... pets. See my blog if you’re in the mood for a good ol' irreverent howl.

SandyCarlson said...

Oh these are brilliant. Middle schoolers are so brilliantly honest and real. I love this assignment. Thanks for sharing these.

ladyfi said...

Wow - what wonderful paintings the kids created!

Raven said...

Ah, if only the world had more teachers like this. A truly wonderful assignment and it's so glorious to see the amazing creativity that is out there waiting to be unleashed and expressed. You have made my day with this post.

Oh... here's a link Quintessentially Quilly, the location of Punny Monday. I think you would enjoy it. It's visual word play.

jsd said...

The students work is all fantastic!

My son came home a couple months ago with his own rendition of this very picture. It's hanging in our kitchen.
But seeing the original and then thinking about his I'm going to ask him more about his color choices.

Daryl said...

Art is so personal, I think this teacher is wonderful .. far better than one I had at that age .. miss your voice and your art .. so good to see you!

lime said...

i also love the idea of having student reintepret the art and i find myself most draw to the ones that real break the mold..the truck, the park ranger. it makes me want to know more of why they chose to interpret that way but i like that they were encouraged to give expression to their own feelings. i think if it had been me doing it i might have wanted to do two versions, one where the figure is very tiny in the swirl of the surroundings and one where the background is nearly non existent and the piece is a close up of the figure's face.

lime said...

the colors in the last one grab me too. i quite like them.

San said...

Hilary, "varied and expressive"--that says it perfectly.

San said...

Lee, I'd forgotten you had middle school experience. For some reason I was thinking "elementary school." You would have a genuine appreciation of this work, wouldn't you?

San said...

Kim, I'd love to see some of those "Scream" quilts. Thanks for your visit.

San said...

Lori, how cool that you feel inspired to do this with your own adult students!

San said...

Kim, I've really enjoyed reading your comment. You've taken the reflection on these paintings to the next level! That is so YOU.

San said...

Carol, I'm glad you decided to dispense with the manners and SCREAM. I heard you last night--all the way from Colorado. That was me you heard screaming back.

San said...

Laura, yes, it's the kids who are most open to creativity.

San said...

Maggie, "thought provoking"--I could not agree more.

San said...

Dolce, the house as a metaphor for the soul--LOVE IT!

San said...

Dar, when I first saw the "park ranger" painting, I saw a lumberjack too. Thanks for reminding me. And thanks for the great story of how your nieces selected their paintings. Their motives are not that different from many adults I've sold paintings to. It's so personal, and always fun.

San said...

Ellen, I agree. Even here, where it's offered, I understand that teachers sometimes have to provide supplies.

San said...

Nick, thanks for visiting. Enjoy the Munchies.

San said...

Sandy, we could all work on the "brilliantly honest and real" factor. It's needed.

San said...

Thanks for your visit, ladyfi. I hope you'll return!

San said...

Raven, so glad to hear these paintings made your day! And thanks for the link to Punny Monday. It sounds fun.

San said...

JS, I'd love to hear your son's responses to your questions. And how cool that a teacher across the country had the same idea!

San said...

Daryl, it's great to see you here too! I think that misguided teachers can stunt kids' creative urges and individual talents.

San said...

Lime, I would love to see the two paintings you've described, the ones you would make in response to the assignment. PLEASE.

San said...

Yes, Lime, aren't those colors simply beautiful?

lime said...

well, i had one water color class about 25 years ago in high school so my painting skills are not too developed. but here is a photographic rendering from me and here is a version that just made me laugh when i ran across it today.

but maybe i'll get brave and try to draw a version of what i was thinking.

Oaks said...

excellent post mom...What a great teacher, "whoever he is"...

San said...

Lime, the photographic rendering is brilliant, and the celebrity Scream equally so. LOVE them. And now I want to see your drawing. But how will you incorporate Hugh Jackman?

San said...

Oaks, that's the Unsolved Mystery.

Anna said...

San firstly welcome back. Secondly the original paintings somehow reminds me Jeepers Creepers movie, but the friendly one, lol. I love the idea what teacher did, the interpretations are stunning. Thanks for sharing again, and hope all is well. Anna :)

San said...

Anna, I'm glad it's the friendly Jeepers Creepers. : )

How wonderful to have you here, friend.

Leslie Avon Miller said...

Wow. What a rich and open "assignment." An invitation to explore.
Thanks San!

lime said...

i doodled versions of my two ideas in postage stamp sized spaces on the church bulletin this sunday. it was more edifying than listening to the sermon. but i may just surprise you and do more normal sized versions soon.

Eddie Bluelights said...

What a great idea to see what the students make of The Scream and their interpretations - all very impressive.

I know the painting quite well and sometimes feel like doing this whenever I awake these days in this troubled world.

Saw you at Sam's and came to sau Hello and welcome back ~ Eddie

Sharon Creech said...

Thanks so much for this great post.

B.T.Bear (esq.) said...

Mummy sez this pikcher is how she feels sumtines, an that is wen I giv her a hed hug. I don't think the person in the pikcher had a bear, or else he wuddent feel so bad.

Shrinky said...

An inspirational teacher is a priceless gift, from the art displayed it is easy to see how she has fired her students imagination - what a delightful display!

jsd said...

I finally asked my son about why he choose the colors he did. He said the teacher had two requirements, use black paper and start with the color white. I asked him why the darker colors and he said because nighttime was coming so it would be dark and the colors need to be darker to reflect that nighttime was coming.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I am very impressed!

Glenda Manus said...

I just happened upon your blog and was so impressed with the art project this teacher did with her students. My granddaughter is in middle school and is a talented artist. It takes that special teacher to bring out their creativity. Just think how many budding artists would never have picked up a paint brush without that spark that the teacher lit.

Janette Kearns Wilson said...

Good to be back with the blogging community.
I think all students should have teachers of that calibre, but how fortunate those kids are....they will probably all end up with the same highs and lows we experience, but it will be worth it