Bold & Bright in Harlem

Bold & Bright in Harlem lesson plan

Explore the Harlem Renaissance then create a bright, bold drawing illustrating everyday stories of people in the community.

  • 1.

    William Henry Johnson was born in South Carolina on March 19, 1901. As a teenager, he moved to Harlem, where he enrolled in the Art School of the Natural Academy of Design. He studied in France for 3 years, then returned to New York. Disillusioned by how he was treated as a young black artist in the United States, Johnson moved to Denmark, where he met and married a Danish artist, weaver Holcha Krake. After several years in Norway, they returned to New York in 1938. Johnson taught at the Harlem Community Arts Center, where he began to take an increased interest in the black experience in New York City. This interest, shared by other African American artists, such as Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence, began the Harlem Renaissance movement.

  • 2.

    Johnson's art includes people actively engaged in their everyday activities. He depicts communities that interact and share common experiences. His paintings are clean and strong. Each picture seems to tell a story.

  • 3.

    With Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils, have students write a story about activities they enjoy doing with friends. Vividly describe the people and places.

  • 4.

    On construction paper, use Crayola Washable Markers to illustrate the story. Fill drawings with bold, bright colors. Keep the figures strong and simple.

  • 5.

    Cover a table with recycled newspaper. Use a wet Crayola Paint Brush to blend the washable marker colors. Dry.

Standards

  • LA: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
  • LA: Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
  • LA: Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
  • LA: Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  • LA: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • SS: Explore and describe similarities and differences in the ways groups, societies, and cultures address similar human needs and concerns.
  • SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.
  • SS: Describe how people create places that reflect ideas, personality, culture, and wants and needs as they design homes, playgrounds, classrooms, and the like.
  • VA: Use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks.
  • VA: Analyze, describe, and demonstrate how factors of time and place influence visual characteristics that give meaning and value to a work of art.
  • VA: Describe ways in which the principles and subject matter of other disciplines taught in the school are interrelated with the visual arts.

Adaptations

  • Classroom resource: Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy Like My Sister Kate: Looking At The Harlem Renaissance Through Poems by Nikki Giovanni. Students select 2-3 poems and compare/contrast their messages. How do these poems represent the era of the Harlem Renaissance? In small groups, students discuss the poems and debate their meanings.
  • Students investigate the lives of well-known artists of the Harlem Renaissance such as William Henry Johnson, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, etc. Prepare a presentation for classmates about your subject.