Lesson Plan

Author and Lead Teaching Artist: Pantea Karimi

Project Description: Three elementary schools’ classrooms, Grade 3-5, from Sunnyvale, Mountain View and San Jose in Silicon Valley California collaborate in My Homeland art project.  Students explore multicultural identity and sense of place through seeing images and discussions. They create a collaborative wall installation in the form of the three above cities’ maps for the outcome.

*The content is designed for Grade 3-5 but it can be adjusted for older age groups as well.

Essential Questions: The projects essentially asks, what it means to create a history and a connection to another place other than one’s native land and to create a new hybrid identity and a sense of place outside one’s culture

Project Steps:

Session 1: Pantea Karimi introduces the project’s topic and content, and shows contemporary artists and examples of their works to students. Five well-known contemporary artists whose work relate to the project’s content will be introduced: artists are from Mexico, Iran, China, UK (African decent) and USA. Students investigate and share information about their own cultural backgrounds as well as their American identity through discussions and questions. For visual references Pantea Karimi presents photos of countries flags, cultural iconic images, patterns, well-known symbols and designs from various places and the USA. Students compare and contrast these photos. They also record their responses to the topics and they write about their cultural/family backgrounds on a Student Statement Form; (visit “My Homeland Stories” page on this website to read some of these responses drawn from Students Statement Forms).

Session 2: Each Student invents and draws a” hybrid symbol”  that represents his/her cultural or family background combined with his/her American living experience or identity, they also have the option of writing about their cultural backgrounds or experiences in their preferred language. Students are encouraged to bring images, objects, fabric, crafts or anything else from their native culture as source of inspiration.  Students draw these “hybrid symbols” on papers that are in the shape of Mountain Veiwe’s, Sunnyvale’s and San Jose’s (selected school) neighborhood blocks. Pantea Karimi draws the “blocks outlines” and cut them in advance; she and students discuss colors, patterns, shapes and students’ native land iconic images and ways in how to combine those in order to create a “hybrid symbol.”

Session 3:  In each classroom, students assemble their final “hybrid symbols” on the three cities (Mountain View, Sunnyvale and San Jose) maps’ outline. Pantea Karimi draws the cities’ maps outlines on bigger size papers, and identify the neighborhood blocks by numbers, in advance for this part of the project. Students match the numbers written on the back of neighborhood blocks, with the one on the maps in order to find the exact placement. The three final assembled maps will be installed together on assigned gallery walls in CSMA, Euphrat Museum of Art and at the MHP in order to create a collaborative wall installation, which brings the three communities together in one visual presentation.

Contemporary Art Connection:

  1. Sara Rahbar, Iraninan photographer and installation artist
  2. Bing Lee, Chinese installation artist
  3. Yinka Shonibare, African-British sculptor and video-maker
  4. Paula Scher, American painter
  5. Carmon Lomas Garza, Mexican-American painter and storyteller

Visual References:

  1. symbols
  2. patterns
  3. flags
  4. iconic cultural images and elements

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Essential Vocabulary:

  • Homeland: A homeland (rel. country of origin and native land) is the concept of the place (cultural geography) to which an ethnic group holds a long history and a deep cultural association with —the country in which a particular national identity began. As a common noun, it simply connotes the country of one’s origin. When used as a proper noun, the word, as well as its cognates in other languages (i.e. Heimatland in German) often have ethnic nationalist connotations. A homeland may also be referred to as a fatherland, a motherland, or a mother country, depending on the culture and language of the nationality in question.
  • Home: The physical structure within which one lives, such as a house or apartment. Sometimes, as an alternative to the definition of “home” as a physical locale, where one lives, home may be perceived to have no physical location—instead, home may relate to a mental or emotional state of refuge or comfort. Popular sayings along these lines are “Home is where the heart is” or “You can never go home again” or “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”
  • Symbol: A symbol is something that represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for “STOP”. On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for numbers. Personal names are symbols representing individuals. A red rose symbolizes love and compassion.
  • Hybrid: Something of mixed origin or composition.
  • Sense of Place: The term sense of place is a characteristic that some geographic places have and some do not, while to others it is a feeling or perception held by people (not by the place itself).

Objectives & Visual Arts Standard Connection, Grade 3-5:

  • The project’s content promotes ethnic diversity and creates a platform for cross-cultural understanding.
  • Students write a story inspired by their own works of art or describe their invented “hybrid symbols.”
Visual Arts Standard Connection, Grade 3:
  • identify and describe elements of art in works of art, emphasizing line, color, shape/form, texture, space, and value.
  • identify artists from his or her own community, county, or state and discuss local or regional art traditions.
  • write about a work of art that reflects a student’s own cultural background.
  • analyze, assess, and derive meaning from works of art, including their own, according to the elements of art, the principles of design, and aesthetic qualities.
  • compare and contrast selected works of art and describe them, using appropriate vocabulary of art.
  • select an artist’s work and, using appropriate vocabulary of art, explain its successful compositional and communicative qualities.
Visual Arts Standard Connection, Grade 4:
  • describe and analyze the elements of art (e.g., color, shape/form, line, texture, space, value), emphasizing form, as they are used in works of art and found in the environment.
  • use the interaction between positive and negative space expressively in a work of art.use complementary colors in an original composition to show contrast and emphasis.
  • describe how art plays a role in reflecting life (e.g., in photography, quilts, architecture).
  • describe how using the language of the visual arts helps to clarify personal responses to works of art.identify and describe how a person’s own cultural context influences individual responses to works of art.discuss how the subject and selection of media relate to the meaning or purpose of a work of art.
  • make informed judgments to identify and describe how various cultures define and value art differently. describe how the individual experiences of an artist may influence the development of specific works of art.
  • construct diagrams, maps, graphs, timelines, and illustrations to communicate ideas or tell a story about a historical event.
Visual Arts Standard Connection, Grade 5:
  • identify how selected principles of design are used in a work of art and how they affect personal responses to and evaluation of the work of art.
  • compare the different purposes of a specific culture for creating art.
  • use knowledge of all the elements of art and create hybrid symbols to communicate meaning
  • identify icons, logos, and other graphic elements from different cultures for ideas and information.
  •  communicate values, personal background, and insights through an original work of art.