Edmondson/Holley Inspired Sculpture

Length: 10-11 class periods (55-minutes each)

The Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission engaged two internationally-known artists, Thornton Dial and Lonnie Holley, to create site-specific public art works for the newly revitalized Edmondson Park (overseen by the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency). This project honors William Edmondson, a native of Davidson County and a self-taught sculptor. Edmondson was the first African American artist to have a solo exhibition at the New York Museum of Modern Art (1937). Like Edmondson, Thornton Dial and Lonnie Holley are self-taught artists.

In this Visual Arts Lesson, students will:

  • have formative assessment for William Edmondson Pre-Assessment
  • have formative assessment for Think-Pair-Share Activity
  • have formative assessment for Brainstorm Graphic Organizer
  • have summative assessment for Poem Analysis
  • have summative assessment for William Edmondson Post-Assessment
  • have summative assessment for Exit Ticket
  • have summative assessment for Art Production Rubric
  • have summative assessment for Grow & Glow Critique

Standards & Objectives

Learning objectives: 

Content Standard:
TN Visual Art State Standards
1 – 4

  • Standard 1.0 Media, Techniques and Processes Students will understand and apply media, techniques, and processes
  • 1.2 Demonstrate an understanding of the safe and responsible use of art media and tools.
  • Standard 2.0 Structures and Functions Students will use knowledge of both structures and functions.
  • 2.2 Demonstrate critical thinking skills in addressing visual arts assignments.
  • 2.3 Demonstrate an understanding of various sensory and expressive qualities in a work of art.
  • 2.5 Reflect on the effective use of organizational components (structures) and expressive qualities (functions) to communicate ideas in works of art.
  • Standard 3.0 Evaluation Students will choose and evaluate a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas.
  • 3.1 Recognize and use subject matter, themes, and symbols in works of art.
  • Standard 4.0 Historical and Cultural Relationships Students will understand the visual arts in relation to history and cultures
  • 4.3 Compare and contrast the characteristics of artwork in various eras and cultures.

Clear Learning Targets: 

  • I can create a 3-D subtractive sculpture with personal meaning.
  • I can compare and contrast William Edmondson and Lonnie Holley’s sculptures.
  • I can analyze poetry to gain a greater understanding of the artist’s work.

Task Objectives (steps to reach mastery of clear learning targets):

  • I can identify tools and materials.
  • I can brainstorm ideas how to make my sculpture meaningful to myself.
  • I can read text rich information about both artists and look at images of their work.
Essential and guiding questions: 

Questioning: Planning to Illuminate Student Thinking:
Assessing questions:

  • How does art reflect human culture?
  • How has art changed through time?
  • Why do people create art?
  • What exactly is art?
  • What does “self-taught artist” mean?
  • How did Lonnie Holley’s art making begin?
  • How are Edmondson’s sculptures different than Holley’s?

Advancing questions:

  • Edmondson says he was inspired by God. Which sculptures do you think exhibit this divine inspiration and what makes you think so? What inspires you to be creative?
  • Why do you think Edmondson thought so highly of school teachers? What makes you think so?

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Differentiation suggestions: 

Scaffolding opportunities (to address learning challenges):

  • Experience charts
  • Heritage homework activity
  • Sketchbook drawing/brainstorming

Opportunities to Differentiate Learning (explain how you address particular student needs by differentiating process, content, or product)

  • Students who need more of a challenge or who may finish more quickly could use a gallon or quart size zip-lock bag for their casting, rather than the milk container.
  • The teacher should provide a short list of ideas for students to choose from in case a few cannot decide on an idea for themselves (within a given amount of time).
  • During the poetry analysis, the teacher can strategically assign poems to specific students, based on their reading levels.

Helpful Hints

Materials and Resources:

Art Making Materials:  plaster, small milk cartons (from the cafeteria), plastic spoons, craft sticks, vermiculite, carving tools, dust masks, sealer (shellac or linseed oil)

Book: I Heard God Talking to Me by Elizabeth Spires, 2009 Student sketchbooks

Other: Large Post-It-Note display boards