Portraits of Places: Maps and Art from the European City View to the Aboriginal Dreamtime Paintings

byKimberly Turner

This curriculum unit is designed for middle school students but could easily be adapted to upper elementary and high school students. The students will explore the viewer's relationship to place by exploring perspective in some depth. In short, we will look at perspective, both technically and metaphorically. The students will be introduced to basic linear perspective techniques and how artists use the various techniques to depict a 3D effect on a 2D surface. They will be expected to be able to describe and use a variety of techniques, including position, size, overlapping, detail, and atmospheric perspective. We will then focus on perspective from four main points of view: worm's eye view, human's eye view, bird's eye view and satellite view. The students will explore a variety of maps and landscapes from different times and different places. City maps from the Renaissance period will be a major focus, as will the landscape paintings of the Australian Aboriginals. The realistic, bird's eye view of the Renaissance city maps will be contrasted with the symbolic, satellite views in Aboriginal art. Students will ultimately have a much deeper understanding of perspective, both visually and cognitively.

(Recommended for Art, grades 5-9.)


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