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Visual Arts Lesson: Writing Desk

Creating a decorative drawer front concealing student treasures


•Knowledge and skills. Complete TEKS for 6th grade art.

1. Perception: b.
2. Creative expression/performance: b. and c.
3. Historical cultural heritage: a.

4. Response/evaluation: a. and b.


•The students will be able to describe this writing desk and the function it served in the culture of the time.
Each student will create a separate drawer to scale and these will be assembled into a class desk that displays each drawer. Students will use repetitive motifs in designing their drawers.
•To illustrate the use of the desk in the viceregal period the students will cut out shapes to represent their own personal treasures and place them behind their drawers.

Introducing the
Work of Art


Large Image

•Show students a large image of the two views of the desk and discuss its features and how it compares to the desks they use at school and the desks they may have at home.
•Discuss the function of the various parts of the desk: the drawers, drop-leaf doors, base, handles, and lock cover. Research why these features were necessary in light of the history of that time. Discuss the source of the designs and compare to other Islamic and Spanish furniture that shows inlaid designs.
•Discuss the concept of motif and the relevance of the motifs of this piece to the history of that time.

Art Activity

Four or five 45 minute periods

sketch paper
Colored paper to match colors of wood and designs
Glue and scissors
Diisplay board

•Students will create individual drawer designs to scale so that they can be fitted into a completed class writing desk for display. The work will be done in construction paper using colors similar to those used in this desk to simulate the walnut, lightwood and ivory.
•Students will select and illustrate motifs appropriate for the student, school or community and use repetition of motif to complete their drawers.
•When finished the individual drawers will be fitted together on a display board in a configuration similar to the original desk. The desk from the Franz Mayer show has ten drawers so students will need to design a desk front to accomodate the number of drawers completed in the class or may wish to have two separate desks with 10 - 12 drawers in each. A base should be cut of black paper and fitted under the desk as in the original work of art.
•Students drawer shapes will be attached to the display only at the sides and bottom leaving the top open. Students will draw or cut small replicas of things that they treasure or write secret messages and slip them into their own compartments.

Evaluation Procedure •Students will discuss their work of art and how they met the lesson objectives. Students could write about the completed class desk and how it compares with the desk from the Franz Mayer exhibit.
•The finished desk should show uniformity of design with each student using repetition of motif and colors as seen in the origianl work of art and the drawers should be cut to scale so that they fit together neatly for display. See assessment matrix.

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