Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Learning Adventure: American Gothic

What do I tell my students all day every day?   
"Learning is FUN!"
"Learn something new every day!"
"Never stop learning!"

Right?  As teachers, our job is to bring the world into our classrooms and create motivating lessons to promote student learning.  The only way to make learning fun is to enjoy learning ourselves!  ...And so I bring you my latest Learning Adventure.  

I went to Indianola, Iowa a few weeks ago to go see the "big people" that have found a temporary home on the campus of Simpson College.  These "big people" are actually a giant statue created by J. Seward Johnson depicting Grant Wood's "American Gothic" painting. The American Gothic sculpture pieces have been recently reconstructed in Iowa and are ready for visitors, so I took a little road trip with my mom.

Do you see me?  Right there sitting on the farmer's shoe?

And right down here?  Peeking over the gigantic suitcase?

The American Gothic couple (a farmer and his daughter) were 25 feet tall!  The painting on the statue was amazing- they looked flat!  


Wouldn't this be a cool art lesson?  Students could create statues of paintings and interpret the parts that were missing (I thought the suitcase was an interesting addition, especially with the modern stickers).  OR- what about the back of a painting?  Paintings are flat, but the sculpture artist had to imagine what the back of these people looked like.  Maybe a little inferencing?  Some measuring?

Then, a week later I found myself at the Art Institute of Chicago, where Grant Wood's original American Gothic painting has found it's home (that's the institute behind the flower in my picture).  The statue has spent time with it's painting counterpart in Chicago in the past.  You can go to google images {here} to see some pictures of the American Gothic statue in it's various locations.

How could you use this in your classroom?  

Check out these links for more information about the American Gothic painting and the traveling sculpture:


  1. Very cool! And since I live in Iowa, there are a bunch of ways to tie this in!

    Fifth in the Middle

  2. Another Iowan found this post! Love it! Thanks for sharing - and I look forward to following your blog!
    Crafting Connections