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The Art of Realism

Hidden messages: An allegory is a creative way of expressing a hidden meaning, like a code. Allegories are often communicated through realistic and familiar images. For instance, sometimes movies use rain to symbolize sadness. Create your own allegory. Be creative—you can write, draw, or even build an allegory out of found objects. Ask your friends and family if they can figure out the meaning of your allegory.  

It's your (casting) call: Who would you like to see playing a character from your favorite story, movie, or even artwork? Create a poster/woodblock-style print in which you substitute a friend, family member, pet, or cartoon character for this character. Use your imagination! Sponge Bob could become Cinderella, or your best friend could become Spider Man!  

Discussion: Grounding Fantasy in Reality: What is it that makes a fantasy more believable? Think about movies like Harry Potter and The Avengers. What do movies need to include in order to be considered believable? Why do you think they need to include these elements? Do you think cartoons can be believable? Why or why not?  

Tombs and Time Capsules: Ancient tombs are like time capsules; they preserve some of the most important objects—including artwork—from the past. Such objects teach us a lot about the everyday lives and beliefs of ancient people. Design your own time capsule by drawing or crafting your objects from clay. What objects would you include to represent the important things in your life? Why did you include these objects? What might they say to future people about who you are and how you lived?  

Fact vs. fiction: Pretend you're an archaeologist. Visit the MIA in person (or connect to Arts here and create a "collection" of 3-5 objects from the same culture. Try to learn as much as you can about the works, then write a history about them. Talk about who created them, who may have used them, how they were used, when they were made, and what they are. But here's the twist: Invent fake stories for 1-2 of the objects. Then present to your class, and see if your classmates can tell fact from fiction. Discuss as a class: Can you always believe what you hear? How do you separate fact from fiction? Why is this an important skill to have?  

Realism for sale!: Advertisers often use realistic-looking, yet idealized, images to convince people to buy their products. Pick three advertisements in different media (television, magazines, Web sites, billboards, etc.) that use realistic images. Write a description for each ad. Then write a response to the following statements:
1.This advertising image is realistic because. . .
2.This advertising image is unrealistic because . . .
3.Write whether you believe the ad will be successful at selling the product. Be sure to explain why or why not.
Then discuss your essay with your classmates.  

January 2013