As a visual arts teacher in the Harvey School system, I teach predominately African American students. The basic focus of this unit will be the various works of Aaron Douglas, Jacob Lawrence, and Romare Bearden, and how the Harlem Renaissance influenced their art and inspired pride in ones heritage.
This unit is intended for sixth grade. It can also be adapted to include students who are in special education and bilingual education programs.
This unit will begin with a historical view of the artist Jacob Lawrence, who has produced a sequence of narrative paintings dealing with important figures in Black history. The unit will then give a brief view of Aaron Douglas’ study of African aesthetics. Douglas is also known for this celebrated series of paintings called “God’s Trombones,” a collaboration with James Weldon Johnson. The final view will center on Romare Bearden and his visual representation of “the blues” in his art. Bearden uses everyday materials such as paper, photos, and fabrics to create a definite blues mood similar to that of blues musicians.