by Angela Mascolino
The March Evenings For Educators will celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of women artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Elizabeth Nourse and others. My second grade students enjoyed learning about Rookwood Pottery founder, Maria Longworth Nichols Storer and her rival, Mary Louise McLaughlin. What an amazing opportunity to introduce my students to the art and stories of Cincinnati artists and then encourage them to go see the CAM treasures in person!
My lesson focuses on vessels and vases. In addition to Storer’s Aladdin Vase and McLaughlin’s Ali Baba Vase, I used Google Art & Culture to share images and information about objects from antiquity to beautiful coffee and tea serviceware from the 1900’s. All of the treasures are part of the CAM permanent collection. I asked students to identify the materials used and they gained inspiration for their own creations by viewing the fantastic dragon on the Aladdin Vase, the delicate floral painting on the Ali Baba Vase and the animals featured on several other pieces.
Students observed how the lines and motifs on the rounded vessels and vases curve. I showed them actual vases and cylinder containers in my classroom and they noted how the openings and bottoms of the objects were circular but when viewed from the side, the openings looked more oblong and the bases of the objects were curved. I demonstrated the difference between drawing a flat vase shape and how changing a straight line to a curved one makes the two-dimensional drawing represent a three-dimensional rounded object. My students then got to work as vessel designers. They drew vessels featuring animals and other patterns that interested them. Once their drawings were complete, they used clay to sculpt three-dimensional versions of their designs. As my students sculpted, they had to problem solve and sometimes start over if their clay form was not stable. This is one of my favorite lessons to teach as it combines local and cultural history, story, math and my students’ creativity. My young artists are learning from artists of the past and creating the future.
Left: Mary Louise McLaughlin (b. 1847, d. 1939), American Ali Baba Vase, 1881 Earthenware Gift of Women’s Art Museum Association, 1881.239
Right: Maria Longworth Nichols Storer (b. 1849, d. 1932), American Aladdin Vase, 1882 Earthenware, limoges glaze line Gift of the Rookwood Pottery Company, 2002.94