grant wood

grant wood and the shampoo lady

this week’s art lesson was about grant wood and, more specifically, his oft-parodied piece, American Gothic. a few fun facts about mr woods that the kids loved…

  • Grant Wood always showed an interest in art – when he was a small child, he used to draw pictures with pieces of burnt wood that his mother gave him from the stove.
  • American Gothic depicts Mr. Wood’s dentist and his sister, Nan.
  • Mr. Wood submitted American Gothic to a big art show at the Art Institute of Chicago and it won 3rd prize!
  • After enlisting in the war, the army became aware of Mr. Wood’s artistic talent and he was tasked with painting camouflage on tanks

Today we looked at a variety of different pieces by Grant Wood. We talked about the historical relevance of the Great Depression and how Mr. Wood’s paintings gave Americans hope during a very dark time. We looked at his paintings: Woman with Plants, Midnight Ride of Paul Revere and, most importantly, American Gothic. We also talked about the notion of “parodying” artwork and looked at a few examples of other artists’ versions of his famous piece.

While I played music of the time period, the children were then tasked with creating their own versions of American Gothic with the same farmhouse background as Mr. Wood’s piece, but with two new people in the foreground.  I had printed out photographs of the actual farmhouse Mr. Wood used as the background for American Gothic and the children created their own two people to then cut out and paste in the foreground of the house. The kids got to pick any two people they wanted – and I loved how creative they got with the assignment…

We had Darth Maul and Count Doku

Darth Maul and Count Doku

Mary and Laura Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie

Mary and Laura Ingalls

Two little Pokemons

Two Little Pokemons

and even a “Shampoo commercial lady and her friend eating an ice cream cone” (my personal favorite)…please note extra friends, including the one hanging out on the porch…

shampoo lady and ice cream cone eatin’ girl

This is a really fun activity you can do at home with your little ones…and if you’re looking for more American Gothic-esque fun, John Duggleby has written an extraordinary book about the life and work of Grant Wood entitled, Artist in Overalls: The Life of Grant Wood. This chapter book gives a wonderful sense of his simple American upbringing and amazing talent.


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