Susan O’Toole and Judy Karavlan’s Collecting Unit focused on how we learn about history and culture, both past and present, from collections of objects and artifacts. The highlight of this project was a school visit by the Pittsburgh based artist, Biko. Biko presented his collection of African American Memorabilia to students and used these objects as a springboard to discuss the African American experience in American history. The students were greatly influenced by his collection and resulting discussion; Arsenal even invited him back to speak at their eighth-grade graduation. Students also examined and discussed Warhol’s collecting practice and that of the other artists in the unit. Students then collected objects within their school, analyzed their collection and photographed the objects. The students decided on accessories, snack foods, technology and footwear as the basic categories that reflect their age group. Silkscreens were created out of the images which the students then printed on a large mural for their school cafeteria.
I picked when Biko was talking and showing his objects as my favorite [part of the project] because I got to know things I didn’t know, and I liked the stories he was telling. I like the museum second best because it was fun and I got to see Andy’s dog, stuffed lion, photos, movies and other things.
Brian, 7th grader at Arsenal Middle School
Thanks for letting us do that silkscreen printing it was lots of fun. It looks way better than what I thought it would look like. I am really looking forward to seeing the project hanging up. The Andy Warhol Museum was very interesting. My favorite part of the museum was the silver clouds. I wish I had some of them in my room. Another part of the museum I liked was the Time Capsules – there were a lot of them. I never knew that someone could collect all of that stuff by himself. The last thing I liked was the death and disaster room.
J. Scarbrough, 7th grader at Arsenal Middle School