Landscape Legacies

Grades: 
9, 10, 11, 12

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to The Group of Seven, a group of artists whose intent was to establish a national identity, a sense of pride and original style for Canada, inspired by the environment. This was a philanthropic endeavor for the common good of all. Students will create similar landscapes of their local community to inspire environmental stewardship.

Duration 
PrintOne Fifty-Minute Class Period
Objectives 

The learner will:

  • describe how art can be philanthropic.
  • analyze the connection between personal values and the culture as reflected in art.
  • continue the role of artists as stewards of the environment.
  • collaborate for the common good through the arts.
Materials 
  • Works of art to display created by the Group of Seven 
  • Drawing paper (If the picture is for use on as greeting card, this could be 8 1/2 x 11 paper folded in half.)
  • Art supplies to create color landscapes.
Bibliography 
  • Group of Seven Art.com: https://groupofsevenart.com/
  • International Child Art Foundation. http://www.icaf.org/about/ 
  • Murray, Joan. The Best of the Group of Seven. McClelland and Stewart. 1993. ISBN: 0771066740
  • Newlands, Anne. The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson: An Introduction. Firefly Books Ltd. 1995. ISBN: 1895565545
  • Silcox, David. The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson. Firefly Books Ltd. 2003.  ISBN: 155297605x

Instructions

Print
  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Display online reproductions of the landscape paintings created by the Group of Seven. Give students a few minutes to look at them. Ask what they all seem to have in common. (They are all landscapes that show the beauty of the environment.)

  2. Explain that these works, which many now agree are masterpieces, were created about one hundred years ago by a group of artists in Canada called “The Group of Seven” (Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, A. Y. Jackson, Franz Johnston, Arthur Lismer, J. E. H. MacDonald, and Frederick H. Varley).

  3. Tell them that the group, which shared a studio in Toronto, was made up of a commercial artist, a wartime illustrator, a teacher, a self-taught artist, and others. The artists would take their canoes out regularly to paint rugged landscapes of Canada. Their intent was to give Canadians a sense of pride in who they were. They had to be strong to survive and that was reflected in their compositions that were strong, simple forms. They felt that Canada, as a new country, should have its own original art and sense of aesthetics, and not try to copy anyone else. They shared their ideas and created art for the common good, or benefit of all. They worked to develop access to art for the common good and rarely were paid for their work.

  4. Define legacy as a perpetual gift without end. These artists created a legacy of environmental art for the Canadian people.

  5. Ask if students think the artists could have done this alone? What was the value of collaborating? How is this an example of philanthropy? (The artists joined together in a voluntary association to do something for the benefit of all – the common good, without expectation of payment. Their mission is to create a visual statement with a social purpose.)

  6. Tell the students that artists can give us a sense of value not only for who we are, but for how we live in our world. Challenge the students to do this through their own art, inspired by the simple style of the Group of Seven.

    They are to create a picture of the environment – a landscape - so beautiful that no one would want to destroy the place by either pollution or violence. (Suggest that the picture should be of something in or near their local community.) The works may not reflect the reality of the environment but the ideal – what they hope the environment will look like in the future.

  7. These pictures could become the cover to greeting cards created for the art-related service project. Ask students to write a statement expressing their concern for the environment on the back of the card.

Cross Curriculum 

Art from the heart: Celebrate students artistic talents and find a way to share these talents with others. Follow your students’ voices to find an organization or group of people who would appreciate a poem, greeting card, or homemade piece of art to brighten their day or let them know someone cares. This may be soldiers, veterans, elderly people in a retirement home, or a local child with a serious illness.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.6 Describe how the civil society sector is often the origin of new ideas, projects and innovation and social renewal.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss and give examples of why some humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.
      2. Benchmark HS.3 Give examples of human interdependence and explain why group formation is one strategy for survival.
      3. Benchmark HS.4 Describe and give examples of characteristics of someone who helps others.
      4. Benchmark HS.5 Describe civil society advocacy organizations and their relationship to human rights.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark HS.3 Describe and compare stewardship in a variety of cultural traditions.
      3. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.