Collecting: Pleasant Hills Middle School

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Contents from students' lockers were photographed as form of personal collecting


Michael Fratangelo, Visual Arts
Charles Stout, Social Studies 


Michael Frantangelo and Charles Stout combined their talents to present the Collecting Unit to their entire seventh grade. Students began this unit with the brainstorming map as well as an activity called the Locker Project. Teachers and other members of the community introduced students to a diverse array of time capsules. Mr. Stout opened a time capsule created by the school’s seventh graders in the early 1990s.  As part of a larger school-wide project around the theme “The Greatest Generation,” representatives from Soldiers and Sailors National Military Museum brought a historical collection to the school. During an outreach presentation at the school, as well as a visit to The Andy Warhol Museum, Artist Educators introduced students to Warhol’s Time Capsules, the artist Biko's collection of African American memorabilia and other contemporary artists’ collections.


Personal Collecting: Locker Project 
Students emptied their lockers and arranged the contents onto a sheet of white paper to be photographed. Students explored these photographed collections from both an individual perspective as well as from cultural and historical perspectives. 

Professional Collecting: History, Time Capsules and “The Greatest Generation” 
Students collected stories from their grandparents and older members of their neighborhood culminating in an evening event showcasing the collections of students, parents and grandparents including art, memorabilia and even 1940s swing dancing.   

Shrink Wrap Project 
Students created personal time capsules as their final project. These time capsules included items such as, objects they saw every day, objects that represented family members, friends and sentimental objects that couldn’t be replaced. Items were arranged in shoeboxes that were then shrink-wrapped and displayed en mass with other students’ collections. During a final group critique, students concluded that through collecting and arranging personal objects into a work of art, they were able to simultaneously reveal information about themselves, their generation and American culture.

Teacher & Student Reviews:


I and my students benefited with the Art/Social Studies collaboration. It gave students an insight to collecting as a historian as well as an artistic resource that can be supplied to all subjects.

Chuck Stout, Social Studies, Pleasant Hills Middle School 

If in 1,000 years from now this box was the only remaining artifact from 2005, people of the future could tell that our culture liked to shop and celebrities were admired.  

The most important thing I learned in this project is that an artist doesn’t have to paint, that you can collect anything, and you can do anything and call it art. 

Collecting as an artistic practice means when you collect things and organize them and get them to represent you in an artistic way. 

Students’ responses referencing a classmate’s time capsule project featuring Aeropostale and Hot Topic shopping bags, an ankle bracelet, a poster of Britney Spears and a magazine featuring Jessica Simpson. 
Image Gallery
Student locker project
Penn Hills MS Collecting projects