Notes from the Field
Carnegie Museum of Art asked teachers who participated in Pittsburgh Past—Pittsburgh Present school and teacher programs to contribute project ideas, resource suggestions, and photographs of student work following their museum visit.
“Notes from the Field” provides a snapshot of the range of ideas and projects to integrate the photographs of Teenie Harris and the nine photographers in Picturing the City into your classroom curriculum.
If you would like to share a classroom project related to this program, please contact Becky Gaugler at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the options.
Thank you to all our teachers and students who participated!
Greensburg Central Catholic High School
Cheri Acita, Black-and-white photography teacher
12th-grade photography students
Photographer as artist: Creating a body of work
For this black-and-white photography assignment, students explored the concept of a photographer as an artist and the idea of creating a body of work based on the work of Charles “Teenie Harris” and the photographers in Picturing the City. Students also thought about how it feels to be the person behind the camera, documenting a specific place. This assignment was given to the students before visiting the museum for a Pittsburgh Past—Pittsburgh Present Gallery Studio Workshop.
For this assignment, students received a roll of 35mm B&W film (400 speed, 24 shots) and picked a specific building as their subject. They shot the entire roll of film of one building—varying their perspective, focal point, and compositions to show the building in many different views.
Students developed their own negatives, and chose their best 5–6 shots to be enlarged into 8×10 photographs. Some students also took the option of printing and hand-coloring views they shot of their building. Finally, they each wrote about the history of the building they chose and why they chose it. The photographs and their writings were mounted together on poster board for their final presentation.
Shannon Putlz, Visual Art Department Chair
High School visual arts students
Tribute to Teenie, A Portrait of Individuality and Identity
The Visual Art Department presented an investigation into the meaning of identity, inviting the viewer to answer the question “Who are you?” with the mounting of an exhibition titled: Tribute to Teenie, A Portrait of Individuality and Identity, inspired by Teenie Harris’s photography.
In recognition of the complexity of identity, CAPA’s entire student population visited our gallery to identify itself in two ways: sit for a portrait in front of a Teenie Harris-inspired photography studio backdrop and to briefly describe themselves on a sticky note. These two activities represented the conflict between identities of individuals within communities.
Inspired by noted Pittsburgh photographer Charles “Teenie” Harris, this site-specific, audience-centered installation is designed as a tribute to him and a celebration of diversity. The goal of this show was to create a portrait of CAPA and the individuals that make up the community over the month of February.
On one wall of the gallery portraits of CAPA students were hung in a grid, a direct quotation from the museum exhibition. On another wall, large images of the portraits were projected above a caption that read, “I look to a day when people are not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Classroom discussions about the CAPA show centered around identity, race, politics, individuality, fashion, style, signifiers and signified, curating, exhibition production, marketing, and viewer/audience.
South Butler Intermediate Elementary School
Jeannette Adams, Intermediate Art Teacher
Michele Evans, Fifth Grade Classroom Teacher and Grade-Level Facilitator
Brent Rodgers, Fifth Grade Classroom Teacher
All Fifth Grade students participated
Interdisciplinary work studying important African Americans
In honor of Black History Month, each 5th-grade student picked a famous African American and researched his or her life and contributions to society—investigating his or her accomplishments in science, entertainment, arts, sports, politics, or the civil rights movement.
In preparation for PSSA, students read nonfiction texts and sequenced key events in their chosen person’s life. In Social Studies, they presented a sequence chart and an image of the person. In Language Arts, students investigated and wrote about how their person was significant to the lives of others in the United States and identified a location associated with their famous person.
In Museum Art Class, students created a photomontage (a collage made from a variety of images) based on the famous African American they chose for their project. They used an enlarged 8 1/2 x 11 black-and-white photograph and added 2 painted areas with acrylic paint. They cut the photo with an X-Acto knife to create a hinged door and glued the frame to a 9 x 12 white cardstock. The composition inside contained a variety of materials including free-style drawings, photos from magazines and the computer, and hand printed dates and famous quotes. Students created a pipe cleaner statue of the famous African American to “stand” along side the photomontage.
Students answered questions about famous person to accompany their photomontage: What took place that was historical in Black History in this photo? Who were the famous African Americans and what was their contribution to society?