Tacoma Art Museum I – Jacob Lawrence


Twice my class has visited the Tacoma Art Museum and done a movement lesson in the art gallery. On the first occasion, I was just being trained through Pierce County’s Arts Impact program on movement in the Arts so my class didn’t have much exposure.

First we toured the Jacob Lawrence exhibit. His figures are dynamic, colorful, and accessible to students. Individual students found and demonstrated a “fantastic shape” from one of his paintings.

Note: A fantastic shape is defined in this context as any shape where your arms, legs, head, and back are not straight. It’s the exact opposite of standing at attention. Lawrence used ‘fire and brimstone preachers, laboring construction workers, and hammering blacksmiths in his work.

First the class went through an exercise making fantastic shapes. Then I introduced a fantastic puzzle piece. With puzzle pieces, individual fantastic shapes interact with each other without actual touching. Hopefully the pictures will help.

Ultimately we combined pairs into three groups who developed large puzzle pieces. These were performed for the other two groups in the middle of the gallery. Fantastic – what an experience for the students – many had never been to a museum!

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