Once upon a time… Those words are like magic. The familiar phrase entices audiences with the promise of a story. What will happen, and to whom? Will it all work out in the end? Humans are wired to share and learn from stories, and the transmission of those tales serves as the foundation for the Art Ark’s newest installation: American Narratives.
We know that not every story is told with words and that visual art is a powerful vehicle for communication. An artwork can tell us something important about its creator, and it can convey a shared history or experience, fostering an unspoken connection between artist and viewer. American Narratives is an interactive exhibition that invites students to examine the lives of North American artists through visual art. Through the installation and its curriculum, students, teachers, and parents build visual literacy skills as they discover how art tells the stories of the diverse people who call this country home, and the structural elements that make a story meaningful and memorable.
American Narratives features American artists from various times and backgrounds who explore their identities and belonging through art.
American Narratives features American artists from various times and backgrounds who explore their identities and belonging through art. There’s Jacob Lawrence, whose work adds to our understanding of African Americans migrating from the south to the north, and Eduardo Carrillo, who combines symbols of his Mexican heritage with European tradition to share his life in paintings. Judith Lowry paints Native American stories she learned as a child, a perspective on 19th-century California is found in the work of German American William Hahn, and Aztec mythology comes to life in the imagination of Mexican American Tino Rodriquez.
What is your story? Your neighbor’s story or friend’s? How do our stories relate, and how do they differ? These are valuable questions that students investigate in American Narratives, as they are reminded that the United States is made up of people with rich and diverse histories, and that it is the melding of those stories that makes the U.S. such an amazing place.
The Art Ark, the Crocker Art Museum’s mobile art education center, has been on the road since 1980, serving more than 475,000 students in grades K-8, teachers, parents, and community members. The program is designed to enhance art education in schools and school districts that have little to no art education programs.