This Spring, seventh graders at Davidson Middle School culminated their year of Social Studies & Arts Integration by studying the artists and artwork of the Italian Renaissance with Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal. Students learned about the Renaissance technique of Italian Street Painting, where street artists (Madonnari) honored the masterpieces to be found in Italian cathedrals by recreating them on the piazzas nearby. Passers-by would reward the street artist’s hard work by tossing coins to them on the street.
Davidson Artists recreated three Italian Masterpieces on their blacktop, on a very large scale. The Last Supper, by Leonardo Da Vinci, was recreated in approximately actual size, 22′ x 14′. Mona Lisa, also by Leonardo Da Vinci, grew from actual size of approximately 1 1/2′ x 2′, to 14′ x 16′, and St Nicholas Taming the Tempest by Fra Angelico grew to nearly as big.
Each piece was divided into equal square grids, and students were each assigned one square from one of the pieces. First, students practiced enlarging their tiny 2″ square onto 9″ square papers. This gave them the opportunity to practice using chalk, and blending colors.
On our second visit, we moved out to the playground. First, we recreated a grid of much larger proportion using tape measures, chalk, and a snap line. We numbered each square (now grown to 2′ x 2′), and then each class joined us to recreate one more time their piece of the larger whole.
Students practiced blending, shading, tone, and collaboration as they worked closely with their neighbors to recreate, in two days, three very large masterpieces for their playground. Students learned that it is challenging to work outside in the sun and wind, to be sitting on the hard ground, and to use our hands to blend and draw.
The final pieces were a testament to the hard work of the students, and were a wonder to see.