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Phoebe Hillemann

Teacher Institutes Educator
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Smithsonian Staff
Teacher Institutes Educator

As the Teacher Institutes Educator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, I organize our week-long summer institutes for middle and high school English and social studies teachers: http://americanart.si.edu/institutes. I'm interested in interdisciplinary thinking, arts integration, and the power of dialogue in learning spaces.

Phoebe Hillemann's collections

 

Urbanized America: The American Experience in the Classroom

The early years of the twentieth-century saw a significant increase in economic inequality between the wealthiest Americans and the poorest. While the rich continued to bathe in their unregulated, post-industrial age economic success, the poor, largely represented by the overwhelming influx of new immigrants, remained trapped in an unrelenting cycle of poverty and adversity. Many struggled to find prosperity and acceptance in a country where some American citizens harbored foreign resentment and racism. Emblematic of the hardships they encountered is artist Everett Shinn’s chaotic scene of Lower East Side Jewish immigrants being evicted from their homes. This scene in downtown New York City is starkly contrasted with artist Childe Hassam’s romanticized view of an ethereal woman in her uptown home surrounded by beautiful objects likely acquired through European travel. She represents the prosperous post-industrial age, where wealthy patrons demonstrated their cultural sophistication through the acquisition and display of exotic, priceless objects in their homes.<br /><br /> The expanding urban population precipitated the introduction of new building materials in the development of high-rise buildings and tenements, revolutionizing urban living. Technological innovations like the electrified elevator and the Bessemer steel process replaced older building techniques and enabled the construction of high-rise buildings, the new symbols of American progress. However, overcrowding of the evolving urban landscape also gave rise to problems such as poverty, disease, and lawlessness. These issues ultimately led to crucial social reform and legislation, known collectively as Progressivism.<br /><br /><a href="http://americanexperience.si.edu/historical-eras/modern-united-states/pair-eviction-tanagra/">http://americanexperience.si.edu/historical-eras/modern-united-states/pair-eviction-tanagra/</a>
Phoebe Hillemann
21
 

The Subway

Artworks, photographs, and other documents relating to the New York subway system.
Phoebe Hillemann
8
 

Teaching Literary Devices through Art

<p>A good visual can often be the key to understanding (and remembering) a seemingly abstract concept. This collection demonstrates how artworks in the Smithsonian American Art Museum may be used to teach common literary devices in the English/language arts classroom such as metaphor, irony, symbolism, and more.</p> <p>Key words: allegory, allusion, anthropomorphism, foreshadowing, irony, juxtaposition, metaphor, mood, motif, satire, suspense, symbol</p>
Phoebe Hillemann
29
 

Remembering Dr. King: Six American Artists Respond

<p>April 4, 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. These six artworks from the Smithsonian American Art Museum's collection were created between 1968 and 1996, and respond to Dr. King's legacy in different ways. What does the date of each artwork tell us about the context during which it was made? What can we learn from looking at them as a collection?</p> <p>Created for a March 1, 2018 webinar for alumni of SAAM's Summer Institutes: Teaching the Humanities through Art.  </p> <p><a href="https://americanart.si.edu/education/k-12/professional-development/summer-institutes" style="background-color:rgb(63,63,63);">https://americanart.si.edu/edu...</a> </p> <p>#saamteach #martinlutherkingjr #mlk</p>
Phoebe Hillemann
6
 

Reading American Art as a Historical Source

<p>How can American art be read as a historical text? How can it be used to explore the 2018 National History Day theme of "Conflict and Compromise in History"? This collection examines two works of American art closely, modeling the process of historical inquiry and analysis. It also shares several online resources on reading artwork in a historical context, and suggests additional artworks from SAAM's collection that might support the theme of Conflict and Compromise.</p> <p>#NHD2018 #NHD</p> <p>Keywords: Reconstruction, Civil War, John Rogers, Winslow Homer<br /></p> <p><em>#historicalthinking</em></p> <p><br /></p>
Phoebe Hillemann
29
 

No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man

<p>Each year in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, a city of more than 70,000 people rises out of the dust for a single week. During that time, enormous experimental art installations are erected and many are ritually burned to the ground. The thriving temporary metropolis known as Burning Man is a hotbed of artistic ingenuity, driving innovation through its principles of radical self-expression, decommodification, communal participation, and reverence for the handmade. Both a cultural movement and an annual event, Burning Man remains one of the most influential phenomenons in contemporary American art and culture.<br /></p> <p><em>No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, </em>an exhibition at the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery, brings the large-scale, participatory work from this desert gathering to the nation’s capital for the first time. This collection features video interviews with many of the artists whose artwork is featured in the show.</p><p><br /></p><p>Keywords: STEM, STEAM, Design Thinking, Installation Art, Public Art</p>
Phoebe Hillemann
17
 

Native American Art and Artists

<p>The artworks in this collection were made by artists who identify as Native American. What can we learn from the diversity of media and subject matter? How might these works be used to counter stereotypical narratives about American Indians? </p><p>Created for a March 20, 2018 webinar with Montana teachers.</p>
Phoebe Hillemann
17
 

Memory and Myth: George Washington in American Art

<p>George Washington is one of the most mythologized icons of American history, and one of the most frequently represented figures in American art. What can comparing and contrasting these varying representations tell us about our national understanding of this founding father and first American President? How does the historical context during which an artwork was made affect its subject matter? How does American art influence the way we think of Washington today? </p><p>Created for the National Council for History Education (NCHE) 2018 annual conference.</p>
Phoebe Hillemann
18
 

Life in DC: Then and Now

<p>Explore images of Washington, DC, using artworks in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Compare them to the present, learning about changing neighborhoods, people and daily life, natural resources, and arts &amp; culture. This collection can be adapted for students of different grade levels learning about DC history.</p>
Phoebe Hillemann
38
 

Exploring Mickalene Thomas's Portrait of Mnonja

<p>In this activity, students will explore Mickalene Thomas's process, artistic influences, and art historical context. Students will examine Thomas's <em>Portrait of Mnonja </em>(2010, Smithsonian American Art Museum) in depth, and use three supporting resources to build context.</p> <p>1. Have students look at Mickalene Thomas's <em>Portrait of Mnonja</em>. Give them 2-3 minutes to do a quick sketch of the painting.</p> <p>2. Next, ask them to note the part of the painting their eye went to first on their sketch with a star.</p> <p>3. Next, ask students to draw a line through their sketch to show the path their eye used to travel through the painting. Use arrows to indicate direction.</p> <p>4. In pairs or as a class, ask students to share where their eye went first, and why they think it went there. Was it the color? Light? Lines? The placement in the composition?</p> <p>5. Next, students should write a list of 8-10 words and phrases describing the painting. Ask for volunteers to share out.</p> <p>6. As a group, discuss students' impressions of the painting. Ask for visual evidence to back up claims. (e.g. A student says, "she looks powerful." You ask, "what do you see that makes you say she's powerful?")</p> <p>7. To further the conversation, share some background information about the painting: the title, the date, and the artist. Explain a little about Mickalene Thomas's process: posing live models in sets with props and furniture, taking photographs, then painting from the photographs.</p> <p>8. Next, break students into small groups. Each group should receive a printout of ONE of the three supporting resources in this collection. Ask them to compare and contrast their image with <em>Portrait of Mnonja</em>.</p> <p>9. After 4-5 minutes, ask each group to share out the main idea from what they discussed. The teacher should add additional information as it is useful.</p> <p>a. Mickalene Thomas set photograph: Shows the artist's process, how she uses real models and sets. Note patterns and 1970s motifs.</p> <p>b. Romare Bearden collage: Thomas has cited Bearden as one of her artistic influences. Students should note similarities in color, pattern, and flatness.</p> <p>c. John Collier painting: An example from the early 1900s of the "reclining woman" in art history. Students should discuss the passiveness/agency of each of these women, and how a male artist's depiction of a woman differs from a female artist's in this case. Thomas was well versed in art history and was consciously making reference to precedents like this.</p> <p>10. Writing Activity: In small groups, have students write a dialogue between Mnonja and someone else. It could be the artist, the viewer, or someone from one of the supporting resources.</p> <p><em><br /></em></p> <p><em>Optional:</em> Have students view one or both of the short videos of Mickalene Thomas discussing<em> Portrait of Mnonja</em>. </p><p>#BecauseOfHerStory<br /></p>
Phoebe Hillemann
6
 

Ecosystems & Food Webs

<p>Students will participate in an introduction to ecosystems and food webs by applying their existing knowledge of systems and communities to new understandings of interdependence and interconnectedness.</p> <p>Essential Questions: </p> <ul><li>What is a system? What are systems in our lives? What are the basic needs of individuals in ecosystems?</li><li>What forces, either within or outside ecosystems, disrupt how these needs are met?</li><li>What parallels might we discover between animal ecosystems and our place in communities?</li></ul> <p>This lesson was developed for the Smithsonian American Art Museum by Christine Riggen. It is designed to be taught via distance learning, but could also be adapted for in-person instruction.</p> <p></p>
Phoebe Hillemann
8
 

Do Ho Suh: Almost Home

<p>Do Ho Suh’s immersive architectural installations—unexpectedly crafted with ethereal fabric—are spaces that are at once deeply familiar and profoundly alien. Suh is internationally renowned for his “fabric architecture” sculptures that explore the global nature of contemporary identity as well as memory, migration, and our ideas of home.</p> <p>Suh was born in Korea and moved to the United States at the age of 29 in 1991, and he currently lives between New York, London, and Seoul. He crafts his works using traditional Korean sewing techniques combined with 3-D modeling and mapping technologies. Suh sees these works as “suitcase homes,” so lightweight and portable they can be installed almost anywhere.<br /></p> <p>Essential Questions:</p> <ul><li>What is home? </li><li>How does perspective-taking help us better understand people, events, or issues?</li><li>How can artwork be used as a provocation for the exercise of higher order thinking and transdisciplinary application of content?</li></ul><p>Created for a program with the National Teachers of the Year on April 30, 2018.</p> <p>#NTOY18</p><p><em>#visiblethinking</em><br /></p>
Phoebe Hillemann
13