What Goes Around, Comes Around!
The purpose of this lesson is to explore the contributions artists make for the common good. We learn how their work is supported by philanthropy and nonproft organizations that assure we have access to art. Students may create art in the form or poetry or a picture to brighten someone's day.
The learner will:
- identify the relationship between the community and the artist.
- identify the value of art, music and drama for the common good.
- explain why arts in the community are often supported by philanthropy.
Make art materials available for individual or a group project.
- Anholt, Laurence. Camille and the Sunflowers: A Story About Vincent Van Gogh. Barron’s Juveniles, 1994. ISBN: 0812064097.
International Child Art Foundation. http://www.icaf.org/about/ accessed 1.21.2011
Show the students some examples of paintings by Vincent van Gogh. Talk a little about the colors, style and feelings generated from the paintings. If the information is available, talk about where the paintings hang and how much they sell for today. Tell the students that this very famous artist didn’t sell very many of his paintings when he was alive. He didn’t make enough money from the sale of his artwork to feed himself. His brother, Theo van Gogh, is well known for helping support his brother. He bought Vincent materials for painting and helped support him. Talk about whether Vincent van Gogh’s art is important to us. If Van Gogh were alive today, what would people be willing to do for him to make sure he had money for food, paints and canvasses?
Read aloud the book Camille and the Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt. Discuss the main idea of the book that the artist van Gogh was a struggling and misunderstood artist. Talk about how and why the boy and his family helped Vincent. How can an artist survive if he can’t make money on his artwork? He needed people who recognized the value of his work to support him. Even today, artists are supported by people and organizations that think the work is important.
Ask students if they would welcome Vincent as their neighbor. Have students explain their answers. What artists today are they aware of? What is the famous art displayed in your region?
Ask students to explain why Camille and his father helped van Gogh when he moved to their village. (Possible answers: Vincent smiled and seemed friendly, Vincent had no money and no friends, Camille’s father, the postman,had a position of authority in the town.)
Ask students to think about whether Camille and his family thought they were helping someone who would become famous and whose paintings would one day become very valuable. Have them support their answers with text references. (Possible answers: No, because he couldn’t sell his paintings; people thought his art was strange. Yes, because Camille thought the paintings were beautiful and he would have liked to have bought them; Camille’s father said that he had the feeling that one day people would learn to love Vincent’s paintings.)
Ask the students how they think Camille would feel if he could see his friend’s paintings hanging in museums. Have them support their answers with references to the text or to personal experiences.
Tell students that artists frequently need help to support themselves in order to be able to create their works of art. Who helped Vincent van Gogh? (Camille, his family and Vincent’s brother, Theo, are some of the people who helped him.) What was the effect of the help they gave Vincent? (Van Gogh made paintings that are famous around the world and have brought joy to many people.) Did any of these people know that they were doing something that would have lasting effect?
Ask students to speculate about the ways that Vincent van Gogh’s works of art have contributed to the common good. (Possible answers include people have enjoyed looking at the works of art; people in museums have jobs because there need to be places to go to see the paintings; people have made money selling reproductions of his work – prints, calendars, notecards, etc. People can enjoy looking at copies of van Gogh’s artwork in their own home.)
Ask them to share any other artists or works of art – in any discipline – that they feel have contributed to the common good. (Some possible answers might be the architect who designed the library, the Statue of Liberty, Beethoven, Picasso, etc.) Ask them if they can tell how the work of art contributed to the common good.
There are many nonprofit organizations with a mission to take care of artists and art. Creating art is a difficult way to make a living, but we are all better off because of art. Look up the art museums, public art (statues), and nonprofits that promote art appreciation in your region. Ask a representative to visit the classroom or go on a field trip.
Students may create a piece of art and share it with an individual or display it at the school or another location, such as a retirement home.
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.
Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
Benchmark E.4 Define and give examples of selfishness and selflessness.
Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.