Credits: 0.5
Term: Fall 2017

Course Description:

How is the identity of America represented in the arts? Is it a more accurate and diverse reflection than you would find in a textbook? How has the identity of America changed throughout history? All of these questions and more will be explored in this course as you learn how to discuss and interpret paintings from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and other museums throughout the country.

Located in Bentonville, Arkansas, Crystal Bridges has over five centuries of American Art, from early portrayals of Native Americans to the contemporary art of today. Each of these artworks is a primary source and provides a unique perspective of American history and identity that you cannot find in a history textbook. You will learn how to discuss, interpret, and critique in this class while also learning about careers in museums. The final project will culminate in a virtual student created exhibition.

Topics & Concepts:
  • Module 1: Have you ever asked yourself, how did we get here?
  • Module 2: What does a portrait represent?
  • Module 3: How do artists fight for freedom?
  • Module 4: How do artists impact society?
  • Module 5: Have you ever felt the desire to respond strongly to an expectation someone or society has of you?
  • Module 6: Have you ever been moved – felt something inside – by simply being in a place?
  • Module 7: How is our identity shaped by the roles we inhabit in our public and private lives?
  • Module 8: How do artists tell the story of working class people?
  • Module 9: How are political conflicts portrayed in the arts?
  • Module 10:  How have artists used their work to address social issues?
  • Module 11: How have artists captured the rural environment?
  • Module 12: How have artists captured the urban environment?
  • Module 13: What’s in a face?
  • Module 14: How do artists portray civilians during wartime?
  • Module 15: What does it mean to be American?

In each session, you will respond to a discussion question about the session theme, read what other students write, and reply to at least two other classmates. The discussions take place after you have explored the two artworks in more depth through readings and videos. The discussions are designed to promote art appreciation and critical thinking through combining what you have learned about the artworks and themes explored in the sessions. These contributions are graded, so it is important to write well (not like you are texting your friend!) and to be thoughtful about your response. It is equally important to read what your classmates have to say and to reply to at least two of their posts with a goal of extending the conversation around the question that was posed. In the Discussion Board, your teacher will play an active role responding to posts and moving the conversation forward in a meaningful way.

Offerings and courses subject to change. Please refer to the VTVLC Student Information System as the most up-to-date resource of current offerings and required materials for courses.