This week, eleventh grade students finished a cultural history unit studying the Modern Period by presenting integrated projects in the format of their choice. After examining the intense cultural shifts that occurred worldwide between 1860 and 1940 in their Cultural History and Visual Arts courses, students were responsible for producing an individual art-based project exemplifying the period and presenting it to their peers.
The Modernity Project is often seen as a sort of “practice run” for the Senior Project, which the class will begin at the end of the school year. “If you go to many of the Senior Project presentations, you’ll find that about 75 percent of students say their topic for Senior Project was inspired by what they chose for their Modernity Project,” said Cultural History teacher Kyle Helke. “We encourage students to focus on a topic they are interested in, but also to consider an area that they might not have thought of before, and maybe discover a new passion through this project.”
Junior Jasmin Da Silva Welter built a wooden model of Germany’s Water Tower at Finow, a stunning example of brick expressionism. Modern architecture, Jasmin said, was characterized by optimizing a space’s function over its appearance. “You can see that it is modern architecture because the space is used efficiently, it has lots of sharp lines, and it does not have excessive ornamentation like other premodern buildings.”
Mary Chernovisova was inspired by the work of Sigmund Freud to draft a series of pictures showing the evolution of a young woman’s worldview after embracing Freud’s theories on the unconscious mind. The images move from black and white to full color as the woman comes to fully accept her repressed memories and emotions.
“I learned that we need to listen to ourselves,” Mary said. “We can solve our problems by searching within ourselves and being accepting of what we find. Until we can love and accept ourselves, we cannot expect others to do it for us.”
According to English teacher Shelby Raebeck, working on Modernity Projects can produce a change in some students. “When students tap into their creative sides, we learn there’s a lot more to these students than we get to see with them sitting behind a desk in any English or history classroom,” he said. “It’s truly remarkable.”