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Family Fun


Family Fun
Resources to help your family enjoy the artwork from Beyond Belief at home or at the museum. Enjoy looking together!
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Teachers and Educators

Teachers and Educators
Explore the artworks in Beyond Belief in the classroom or within the context of a Museum visit. Resources include information, discussion questions, suggested activities, and multimedia links.
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Liberating Lens

Liberating Lens for educators
Submit a Photo inspired by Alfred Stieglitz’s photographs of clouds. The CJM is partnering with Citizen Film, the New Media in Jewish Studies Collaborative and the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies’ Liberating Lens to encourage students, young artists and educators to submit their own photographs.
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Who Was Alfred Stieglitz?
Pioneering Jewish American photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946), transformed photography into modernist art. His gallery at 291 Fifth Avenue in New York City and his journal, Camera Work (1902-1917), introduced Americans to new ways of seeing. In 1921 Stieglitz defined himself: “I was born in Hoboken. I am an American. Photography is my Passion. The Search for Truth is my Obsession.” Stieglitz did not mention that he was a Jew because everyone knew it. Being Jewish pushed him to the margins of society and photography freed him to innovate, to shape his personal identity, and create his own artistic community. “No two moments are alike,” he said. So he photographed clouds as “equivalents” of his “most profound life experience.”

—Deborah Dash Moore,
Director, Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan
How I Came to
Photograph Clouds
by Alfred Stieglitz
I was in the midst of my summer’s photographing…

My mother was dying. Our estate was going to pieces. The old horse of 37 was being kept alive by the 70-year-old coachman… all about me disintegration—slow but sure: dying chestnut trees—all the chestnuts in this country have been dying for years: the pines doomed too—diseased… the world in a great mess…

So, I made up my mind… to photograph clouds to find out what I had learned in 40 years about photography…

—Excerpted from The Amateur Photographer & Photography, Vol. 56, No. 1819, p. 255, 1923
On Seeing Pictures
“I have found that the use of clouds in my photographs has made people less aware of clouds as clouds in the pictures than when I have portrayed trees or houses or wood or any other objects. In looking at my photographs of clouds, people seem freer to think about the relationships in the pictures than about the subject-matter for its own sake. What I have been trying to say through my photographs is communicated with greatest clarity in the series of Songs of the Sky. The true meaning of the Equivalents comes through without any extraneous pictorial factors intervening between those who look at the pictures and the pictures themselves.”

—Alfred Stieglitz in Dorothy Norman’s An American Seer, Aperture, 1990


Games and Activities for Kids


Get Creative
Games and activities that explore how looking at art, and the world around us, can open our mind to new experiences and ideas. Play Exploration Bingo, create an art-inspired poem or story, or make a drawing using shape and color to create a mood or feeling.
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Action Jackson, by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan


Books for kids
These books can help you and your family explore modern art and artists.
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Exploring the Gallery


Discussion Questions

  • What stands out to you about this piece?
  • How do the materials the artist selected impact your understanding of the piece?
  • What associations do you have with light bulbs? What might they represent in this artwork?
  • This artwork has been interpreted as a memorial to the artist’s partner. Compare this work to other memorials you’ve seen. How is it similar or different? In what ways have you memorialized people you’ve lost?



Classroom Activities

  • Research and compare memorials (Maya Lin, Christian Boltanski, yartzheit candles)
  • Design your own memorial—what materials would you use? What would they symbolize?
  • This could be understood as a memorial, how else could you understand the piece?

How to explore the gallery
Try these fun activities while looking at the artwork in Beyond Belief. Let your children choose what interests them and don’t worry about seeing everything. Even stopping at one or two artworks can have a big impact.
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Genesis


Discussion Questions

  • What about the shape and form of this sculpture stands out to you? What associations do you have with this shape?
  • What do you notice about the materials Mendieta chose to use for this work? How might this work differ if it were made of other materials?
  • What does the title, Tallus Mater (Madre Tallo/Stem Mother), evoke for you?
  • How might this piece relate to Mendieta’s interest in feminism, religious traditions, or nature?
  • How might this artwork be connected to concepts of beginnings, creation, or birth?



Suggested Activities

  • Social Studies, Religious Studies, and Art: Mendieta and the Spiritual
    Ana Mendieta’s spiritual interests represent a fusion of traditions—Santería, which melds Catholicism with the Yoruba religion, as well as feminist philosophies and connections to nature. Ask your students to find connections to these ideas in Mendieta’s work. (They may need to do a bit of research to learn more about Santería.) Have them research and share their findings with the class. Then, have students create an artwork that reflects something about their own cultural or religious background.
  • Women and History: Mendieta and Feminism
    Tallus Mater (Madre Tallo/Stem Mother) can be interpreted as an abstracted human form, with references to ancient fertility figurines. Have students research fertility goddesses, such as the Venus of Willendorf (c. 24,000–22,000 BCE). How are they similar to Mendieta’s sculpture? How are they different?
  • Artistic Comparisons
    Ask students to compare Tallus Mater (Madre Tallo/Stem Mother) to Mendieta’s other work, such as her Silueta series, or her earth-based performances on film. How are they similar? How are they different? What elements related to birth, beginnings, the body, and nature do you notice? Now have them compare this work to Kiki Smith’s Lilith, also featured in the “Genesis” section of Beyond Belief. Ask students to create a Venn diagram to highlight the common themes as well as divergent approaches of these two artworks.


Genesis
Overview
Representing multiple generations and working in diverse media, the artists in this section, including Ana Mendieta, Robert Rauchenberg, and Kiki Smith, offer alternative and provocative interpretations of both the creation story and the concept of genesis. These artistic interpretations touch on birth and new beginnings, and feature projects ranging from adaptations of ancient symbols of fertility to the story of the origin of the world as told through a feminist lens.
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Discussion Questions




Suggested Activities

Multimedia Activities

Divine Architecture
Overview
The artists featured in this section, including Franz Marc, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Alfred Stieglitz, have captured a sense of awe, wonder, or the mystical by observing the natural world and creating art inspired by their perceptions.
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Loss and Redemption





Discussion Questions




Classroom Activities

Multimedia Activities

Loss and Redemption
Overview
For the artists in this section, including, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Philip Guston, and Mark Rothko, the reality of living in an imperfect world is tempered by the tentative, symbolic promise of redemption through art.
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