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Ed Ruscha Art Messages

Ed Ruscha is an American pop-artist and one of the many artists supported by FAPE (Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies). In this lesson students use a great range of Crayola products to turn regular words into masterpieces à la Ruscha style.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. In a sketchbook or on newsprint, have students write/draw their names in as many fonts as they can for 10 minutes (script, bubble, graffiti, block letters, 3-D, ribbon, etc.) Allow them to compare and brainstorm with peers.
    2. Introduce students to American Pop-artist Ed Ruscha. Provide students with brief but interesting details about his life and show them plenty of examples of his work. As a class, discuss his body of artwork. Examples of discussion questions: • Which piece were they most drawn to? Why? • What are some elements that tie the artist’s pieces together? (simple words and phrases using different fonts) • What would they change if they were the artist? • What do they feel the artist is trying to accomplish with their pieces? • What type of media does the artist use? • What, if anything, do the pieces remind them of (something they have seen or experienced before)?
    3. On white paper, have students sketch out the word or simple phrase of their choice using one of the fonts they practiced earlier or created after being inspired by Rucha’s artworks. Encourage good composition, words filling the space available.
    4. Using a variety of Crayola® markers and crayons have students add color to their art to complete it. Encourage students to carefully consider their color and texture choices so that the feeling given by the final piece appropriately reflects the word or phrase they used.
    5. Have students create a text (artist’s statement) explaining why they chose their word or phrase and how their artistic choices (font, color) relate to their word or phrase.
    6. Create a Word Art gallery for other students in the school to enjoy.
  • Standards

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose and audience.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    VA: Use different materials, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences and stories.

    VA: Use visual structures and functions of art to communicate ideas.

    VA: Explore and understand prospective content for works of art.

    VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

  • Adaptations

    Use the lesson as an introduction to a unit on concrete poetry, or spoken word for Language Arts.

    Compare and contrast the art of Ed Ruscha with that of other word artists such as Jenny Holder or Barbara Kruger.

    Create art using powerful words or message from iconic speakers and have artists’ statements reflect the context of the word or phrase (ie. I have a dream, Ask not what you can do for your country, Four score and twenty years ago, Freedom is never granted, etc.)

    Some of Ruscha’s Art contains marketing slogans use these as a springboard to a unit on advertising, critical thinking as consumers, slogan creation, etc.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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