“The Eclipse Is Coming! The Eclipse Is Coming!”

Possible Classroom Concepts: Science – Astronomy, Anatomy (The Eye), Ecology (Recycling,Repurposing)

Social Studies – Inventions

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Raphael, Cosmas Damian Asam, Roy Lichtenstein, Alma Thomas, Rufino Tamayo, George Grosz, El Anatsui

Art Medium – Photography, Painting, Printmaking (Engraving, Silk Screen), Metal Art

Art Movements – Pop Art, Futurism

Principles Of Art – Pattern/Repetition

isaac-and-rebecca-spied-upon-by-abimelech-1519-1.jpg!LargeRaphael and his workshop’s “Isaac and Rebecca Spied upon by Abimelech”

With all the excitement about the solar eclipse, which will cross the USA on Monday, I was reminded of my first experience with a solar eclipse as a young child. I distinctly remember not being able to look directly at the sun and using some sort of box to view the event. This got me thinking. I remember that event ever so clearly even today. If a nearly 65 year old woman has such vivid memories of a solar eclipse so might today’s students. Let’s face it, we’re in the remembering business, so why not capitalize on this event? Find a video on how to make a solar eclipse viewer box here. So, once students view the eclipse, here are some extension activities. This viewer box the students just used is essentially a pinhole camera known as a camera obscura and the basis for all photography?  Look here for a slide show with a concise history of the camera. Look here for a video on camera history. Students can convert their eclipse viewer into a pinhole camera using the directions in  this video. (An Interesting side story, a man named, Tim Jenison, believes the artist, Johannes Vermeer, painted his very detailed paintings using a camera obscura. Tim spent five years going about proving his theory. There is a documentary called “Tim’s Vermeer” which chronicles his journey. It is a must see.) could also point out that the way the pinhole camera works is also the way the human eye works.

Artists often record experiences through their art, so, I went searching for solar eclipse masterpieces. I wasn’t disappointed. The Princeton University Art Museum had a whole collection of  eclipse works on their site. What did surprise me was when these works were produced. I fully expected to see lots of paintings from long ago, such as Cosmas Damian Asam’s “Vision of St. Benedict”. Surprisingly, there were more works from the modern age and from other countries. I love this engraving of people watching an eclipse in 1865.  So many were abstract (you can tell what they are but they are not photographically real looking). My first surprise came with  the work entitled, Eclipse of the Sun, by Roy Lichtenstein. Lichtenstein is a Pop artist, famous for his comic book theme. His eclipse print is in his graphic style, but looks more like a futurist work (where artists repeated a shape over and over again to simulate motion). Can you see the eclipse happening? I had seen Alma Thomas’ Eclipse painting before, but had never scene the title. Wow, so GREAT! Now let’s travel to some other countries. Mexican artist, Rufino Tamayo painted “Total Eclipse”. German artist, George Grosz painted Eclipse of the Sun foreshadowing WWII. Ghanian artist, El Anatsui, created his Solar Eclipse from recycled metal pieces. Notice the repetition of circles in this one also. So, students can view these artist’s interpretations of a solar eclipse before or after they create a drawing or painting of their own eclipse experience.

How are you planning to experience or teach the eclipse? I’d love to hear. Simply click on the post’s title and scroll down to the comment section. If you like what you’ve seen here, please feel free to toss me a “like” or better still become a follower.

Thanks so much for reading. Hope you’ll stop by again real soon!