American Art Project


American Art Project Instructions

It is important to remember, represent, and honor a collective past, but it is equally important to understand a deeper significance to visual records. In this assignment, you will examine works of art available through the website of the Architect of the Capitol. The purpose of this assignment is to emphasize how art can be used to portray historical events and convey a message when viewed in the context of the age in which it was created.

This assignment consists of 2 parts. In Part 1, you will view the historical paintings that surround the interior space of the Capitol Rotunda and read a short description and history of the artwork. In Part 2, you will view sculptures of some famous Americans who have been enshrined by their state in Statuary Hall. Read through all of the instructions for both parts before you begin. You will submit both completed parts to Blackboard in a single Microsoft Word or PowerPoint (if you do a PowerPoint, it must be submitted as a pdf) document.

Preparation: (as referenced in the pre-assignment)

Before beginning this part of the assignment, it is necessary to define what is meant by message and context of a work of art. The message of art is more than just the subject matter of the painting or sculpture. Some works of art may portray one image, but when examined closely, it conveys a deeper meaning reflective of the period in which it was created. Click on the following link, and look at the artwork presented, then read the description of the figures presented there. As you review the information, think about the following questions: Why would Classical and Renaissance images and themes appear in this type of space? What message was the artist trying to send?

Next, take a look at this resource on The Apotheosis of Washington.

Concentrate primarily on the text from the 2nd column of p. 127 to the end. It gives several clues as to why Brumidi created the image in the way he did, including the events of the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction. This is what is meant by context, the events and attitudes surrounding an event.

Both message and context are important when viewing public art. They help us appreciate more than just the history the artwork represents. When we understand these concepts, we can view our collective past on a deeper level.

Keep this information in mind as you complete this project. The events surrounding the creation and placement of public art say quite a bit about the art itself. Spend spend some time thinking about this aspect of the assigned paintings as you complete Part I. Look for connections between events and images. You do not need to describe the event the artwork depicts but the period of American history in which it was created. Use your textbook to place the images in their correct context.

Part 1

Click the above link to open the page for the Capitol’s Historic Rotunda Paintings. Click on the individual images for each of the 8 paintings to see them in more detail, view basic information on the piece, and read the short article provided. Once you have viewed all 8 of the images and read each description, you will choose 4 to create your presentation that answers a series of questions for each image. You must include the image, its title, and the artist as a header to each section, followed by 1 paragraph of 200–300 words for each image that addresses the following:

Presentation Questions Part I

  1. What is the artist trying to portray with the image? What feelings is he trying to evoke?

  2. When was the image commissioned and hung? What events were occurring in America that could have shaped the composition of the painting? Is there a message in the image shaped by those events?

  3. Is the artist successful in communicating his message in the work? Is there a clear connection between the artwork’s content and its context?

  4. .…….

Be sure to write your paragraph in your own words and that you proofread your work to eliminate spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors. Be sure to review the Writing Tips document to avoid common errors in academic work. After you have written your paragraphs for each of your 4 choices, proceed to Part 2.

Part 2

Click the above link to open the page for the National Statuary Hall Collection. Once you have read the short overview and description of the collection, click the link to find the 2 statues that represent your state. Copy the image for each into your presentation. After each image, include the individual’s name and the state he/she represents. Then, in a 200–250-word paragraph, give a short summary of the individual’s historical significance and an evaluation of whether this individual is a good choice to represent your state.

Be sure to write your paragraph in your own words and that you proofread your work to eliminate spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors. Be sure to review the Writing Tips document to avoid common errors in academic work. These paragraphs will be submitted in the same document as Part 1.

How to Submit Your American Art Project

When you have finished both parts, review the instructions again to make sure you have completed the entire assignment properly. Carefully proofread your paragraphs to eliminate spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors. Save your work into a single Microsoft Word or PowerPoint document (as a pdf) and attach it to the submission link in Blackboard. Do not type your answers in the comment box or email your work to the instructor.