Yesterday’s Artists, Today’s Inspirations: Homeschool Art History Class 5, Mary Cassatt

Last week, my class was finally able to add a female artist to their timelines. Being the feminist that I am, I was beyond pumped to introduce my students to this woman who, not only gave her male peers a run for their money, but who also fought hard for women’s right to vote. What a lady.

We began class listening to a biography about Mary Cassatt while the children placed their pictures and information onto their timelines.  The following is what was to be written under her photo on the timeline:

Mary Cassatt

1844-1926

Born: America (Pennsylvania)

Died: France

Children were given a map of the US and were able to color in Pennsylvania.  We talked about why Cassatt was the first artist on our timeline who died in a country different from the one in which she was born (transportation improves as time passed, increasing the chances that people will move great distances within their life time).

Fast facts were:

  1. She perfected her art by copying the famous art works of others.
  2. Her art often focused on relationships, especially mothers and children.
  3. Cassatt was active in the women’s suffrage movement in the United States.

The children were then taught how to use oil (or hard) pastels in order to create drawings of a relationship important to them. I saw pictures of imaginary spouses and children, dogs, and even one of poop!  It is always so much fun to get to know my students a bit better via their art.

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After they finished their pastel drawings they moved to the back of the room where they broke into groups to create posters for a Women’s Suffrage advocacy. On the white board, I wrote the following phrases which I had seen on actual posters related to the fight for the vote:

Women Pay Taxes!

Women Obey Laws!

Women bring all of the voters into the world.

Give mother the vote.

Are women citizens? If not? Why not?

Let women vote.

These quotes were meant to either be used directly or to inspire.

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As you can see, some kids took the quotes and used them while others made up their own!  I love them all so much!

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This was a wonderful class session where I was able to combine so many of my favorite subjects… art, literature, feminism, women’s history, and poop! Ha!

My children and I very much enjoyed this dvd, a type of historical fiction film based upon the life and true events that took place. We checked it out at our library.  Please know that the content in this film might not be suitable for all viewers so either read about it first or preview it. 

Stay tuned for next week: MONET!

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