Residency Artist: Cheryl Myrbo

**This workshop material is the copyright of Cheryl Myrbo and may not be copied or used in any form
unless Cheryl Myrbo will be conducting the workshop.

Using quotes direct from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, required reading for most sophomores and/or juniors in Georgia, the artist guides the students through art which surrounded and most likely influenced Fitzgerald's work in the twenties.

PROGRAM OBJECTIVES: Students who attend this workshop will have a clearer understanding of the influences of art on our lives and have the opportunity to create a work of art based on quotes from the book. The Great Gatsby was written during an incredibly eclectic period in art. During the twenties in Paris artists and writers hanging around the cafes and bistros were surrounded by Realism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Expressionism, even the beginnings of Cubism and Surrealism. It is hard to imagine the writing of Hemmingway, Stein, and Fitzgerald NOT being influenced and colored by the creativity surrounding them. (Hemingway in particular writes of a Cezanne painting he visits repeatedly during the writing of A Moveable Feast.)

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS: This residency teaches the connection of color, light, and design with the writing and composition of F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby. Scott Joplin is played and syncopation is defined as part of the Jazz Age (coined by Fitzgerald) atmosphere. Courses: English, Composition, Visual Arts, Music.

SPACE AND TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS: Large classroom with tables or desks and a space for stillife setup. Sinks nearby. Slide projector and screen. CD player optional.

PROGRAM STATUS: Complete, practiced at Chattahoochee High School in Spring 2002, January 2003, Banneker High School 2001.

SESSIONS: Slides 20 minutes, hands-on 30 minutes. Four sessions per day. Approximately 25 students per session. $300/day


The workshop begins with an introduction to the history of art and the role of the artist throughout history. Slides of Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Reubens, Delacroix, David, Goya, Courbet, to name a prominent few, lead the students up to the invention of the camera in the 1840's and its release of the artist from his prior role as journalist to the nations. Cezanne, an artist whose work spans three periods due to his leaps in style and perception, is cited for the three dimensional studies he paints predating Cubism. Work of the other Impressionists, Expressionists, Fauves, Cubists, and Surrealists lead the students through excerpts and quotes from Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. (These particular quotes evoke images of specific paintings by artists of the early Twentieth Century.)

"...the silver pepper of the stars."
Van Gogh/Starry Night

Stopping with Van Gogh's "Starry Night," two students read out loud two quotes squared off at the bottom of the handout. (portions following) As these are read, lights are turned on the previously set simple still life of cylinders, spheres, and cones. The students are reminded of Cezanne's goal to separate landscapes into "the cylinder, the sphere, the cone" (ie."sugarlumps") to better delineate the depth and breadth of nature. With all this in mind (quotes, Cezanne, "valley of ashes" using charcoal) the students are instructed to do the opposite: viewing the shapes of the stillife, they are directed to draw/paint/color the skyline and crowd they see (imagine) in the scene. A pair of spectacles are perched on top of the stillife to bring Gatsby's Dr. T. J. Eckleburg closer to home.

"This is a valley of ashes--a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens, where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air...."

"Over the great bridge, with the sunlight through the girders making a constant flicker upon the moving cars, with the city rising up across the river in white heaps and sugar lumps..."

VOCABULARY WORDS: syncopation: emphasis on the traditionally weak beat;
introduced by Scott Joplin

PRE and POST-ACTIVITY: Read The Great Gatsby. Faced with an accumulation of colorful squares, the instructor/students have an option of putting a patchwork quilt on the classroom wall.

**This workshop material is the copyright of Cheryl Myrbo and may not be copied or used in any form
unless Cheryl Myrbo will be conducting the workshop.

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