UCSB Art History Education Outreach

The Future is Here!


A fourth grade student plays with her masterpiece!

Last Thursday, interns Merisa Vertti and Sloane Kochman presented to the 4th graders of Isla Vista Elementary. The students’ energy and enthusiasm to learn new topics created a fun, collaborative, and creative learning environment. Lead Presenter Merisa taught a brief lecture on Futurism, an Italian movement that focused on the changing world in Europe in the 1910’s and 20s. The students learned about the Industrial Age and how modern technology inspired early twentieth century artists. This concluded with an interactive discussion on the difference between older, more classical sculpture in Italy and the new Futurist art that centered on movement and speed.


An Isla Vista Elementary Student sculpts Intern Merisa in motion.


Merisa poses for students.


After the presentation, the kids were ready to be little Futurists! They took what they learned and brainstormed and were each given a block of modeling clay. They were allowed to sculpt whatever they wanted as long as it attempted to portray some type of movement. In order to think like the Futurists, students also had the opportunity to sculpt interns Merisa and Sloane in order to challenge themselves by attempting to sculpt what was moving in front of them. The interns contorted their bodies in the front of the classroom until the 4th grade artists instructed them to stop. And in those crazy frozen positions the students came up with some interesting pieces!


Another great piece!




Optical Art with the Students of IV Elementary! (March 4, 2014)

            op art 1  

Interns Merisa Vertti and Liglin Lopez went to Isla Vista Elementary School on Thursday, March 6th to give a workshop on Optical Art. The fourth graders of the Isla Vista Youth Project, or the after school program there, loved learning about an art style that icites the eye to think about painting in a new way. The lesson plan required the kids to get out of their seats and active to better analyze the optical illusions of Bridget Riley and other Op artists of 60s and engage with different works of art.

 op art 2

 Their favorite presentation themes included Abstraction and the Movement. This lesson was a fun way to learn new types of shapes and patterns like concentric circles and symmetry. Along with the presentation, students were given a handout with terms to discover. They were asked to draw pictures or write familiar words to define these new terms. We also had a great discussion about what a sensation is and all the different types of sensations the kids felt from the paintings we studied.

 op art 3

 For the remainder of the workshop, the students created their own optical illusions using pencils, markers, and paper. They were asked to apply the concepts that they had learned about this particular art style and to recreate an original design in this manner. They used patterns, geometric shapes, and artistic rhythm to create movement and illusions in their art. Some even put hidden messages in their masterpieces!

New Rome: The Art of Byzantium


This presentation will focus on the way in which Christianity shaped much of theRoman art being produced circa 6th century A.D. It will also focus on the architecture of the time period, such as churches and the way they were built.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will be able to identify different types of architecture
  • Students will describe reasons for the creation of certain artworks
  • Students will learn about different art mediums

Accompanying Activity:

Kids will make their own mosaic using construction paper.

Age Range:

This can be structured to any grade, but primarily tailored for 5th grade and onwards.

Materials Provided:

PowerPoint presentation.

Materials Needed:

  • Technology for us to present
  • Colorful construction paper

German Expressionism: The Bridge vs. The Blue Rider


This presentation focuses on the introducing two types of expressionistic painting styles, such as The Bridge and The Blue Riders. The Bridge artists focused on bridging the old with the new, while the The Blue Riders were more interested in producing paintings that captured their feelings in visual form. Much of the expressionistic art will also focus on the artist’s personal visions and emotional dimensions.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will be able to identify different styles of art
  • They will learn about a specific art process
  • They will engage in art making

Accompanying Activity:

Kids will create their own expressionistic work of art.

Age Range:

This presentation can be tailored to any grade.

Materials Provided:

PowerPoint presentation

Materials Needed:

Colorful tissue paper

What is Art? Exploring Beyond Traditional Media

one-and-three-chairs Yoko-ono2_1482538a banksy-olympic-rings

Art in the 20th century and beyond explores human expression far deeper than a paintbrush or a camera lens can allow. In this workshop, students are exposed to and asked to analyze art that uses nontraditional media or nontraditional spaces. Some artists seek to change the problems they see in society and create art to do so. For example,  Kosuth’s Conceptual chair piece that questions simply what is, or Yoko Ono’s performance piece that explores femininity and desire in public spaces, and even graffiti art of Banksy all target problems of the 20th century.  This workshop aims to expand students’ knowledge of contemporary art, deconstruct the myths surrounding this art, and engage students in a new and challenging conversation about art that does not have right or wrong answers.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn and recognize new and nontraditional forms of art.
  • Students will discuss the importance,relevance, and value of such art in today’s (art) world.
  • Students will understand the different reasons for creating Conceptual and Performance based art.
  • Students will demonstrate understanding by creating performance pieces in small groups.

Accompanying Activity:

Students will be separated into small groups and asked to create a performance piece that addresses a problem they see in their world, whether locally or an a more global scale. This activity serves to allow students to explore the cathartic protests of artists who use their bodies and other nontraditional media in inciting change.

Age Range:

This workshop is aimed at children grades 7th and older. However, it can be tailored to any age group upon request.

Materials Provided:

  • Presentation on PowerPoint

Materials Needed (by teacher/classroom/host organization):

  • technology to present the powerpoint

California Missions and the Spanish Colonial Influence


As a supplement, quickstart, or refresh of your curriculum, this workshop is perfect for fourth grade classes studying California missions and the Spanish Colonial influence! This workshop is very flexible to your classroom needs as we can cover specifically the Santa Barbara mission or the Spanish influence across California. It is image heavy and less of a history lesson; we concentrate more on the architectural elements of missions and how it has affected other Californian architecture. This is a great workshop for teachers who wish to spruce up this routine subject with an architectural flare!

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn architectural vocabulary as it relates to missions.
  • Students will recognize which elements are Spanish influence and be able to apply that skill to present day buildings.
  • Students will understand the importance of this type of architecture in the course of California history.

Accompanying Activity:

Students will revision and  draw or paint a familiar building in the Spanish Colonial style. This activity allows allows kids to solidify their understanding of the material by not just recognition, but creation.

Age Ranges:

This workshop is aimed for 4th graders, but can be tailored for any age group.

Materials Provided:

  • Presentation via Powerpoint
  • Paper
  • Colored Pencils

Materials Needed:

  • Technology to use Powerpoint



This workshop has two angles. Both include a fun survey of well-known Impressionist painters (such as Monet, Degas, etc), a brief history of the founding of Impressionism and its ideals, and the exploration of the use of light and en plein air painting. The first type of presentation, aimed for younger students, would end here and continue into an activity. The second type of presentation, for older students, seeks to broaden the understanding of this overly-referenced art movement in pop culture. This presentation includes more obscure artists as well in the survey of Impressionists works, it delves into the influence of the French Academy on future art generations, and presents Paris as an urban and influential backdrop for this new art style. It also focuses on the innovation of light and color as subject matter rather than just a means of technique, an unprecedented idea in art history.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will be able to recognize well-known Impressionists works and distinguish the artist from style upon inspection.
  • Students will understand new techniques of this movement such as en plein air.
  • Students can describe the influence of Paris and the city on Impressionism.
  • Students can describe the influence of the French Academy on Impressionism.
  • Students can differentiate the formal techniques that make paintings uniquely Impressionist.

Accompanying Activity:

Students will paint or draw a familiar space around them. They will pay specific attention to how light interacts with this space. Ideally, they will paint or draw this same space at a different time of day to see how the light and color have changed. This activity functions to make aware the students to the ephemeral quality of space that Impressionists sought to convey.

Age Range(s):

The first type of presentation is aimed at students in 5th grade or younger. The second type is aimed at 6th grade and higher. However, either type of workshop can be geared towards any age group.

Materials Provided:

  • Workshop Via Powerpoint
  • paper
  • watercolors
  • brushes

Materials Needed:

  • technology to present the workshop via power point