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Making a Statement with Grant Wood’s American Gothic (C3W6)

In the 6th week of each year, we have a final drawing project to finish our six-week fine arts unit on drawing. This coming year (Classical Conversations, Cycle 3) we’ll be making an altered version of Grant Wood’s American Gothic. Even if you don’t recognize the name, I’m sure you’ve seen the painting. It has a woman standing next to an old man holding a pitchfork. It is shown here with some of Grant Wood’s other famous paintings:

Grant Wood's Paintings

Grant Wood created this painting in 1930 and people had a wide variety of reactions to it. Many art critics saw it as a satire of simple-minded farmers. When the people of Iowa realized they were being made fun of, they protested. However, Wood responded by explaining that he meant it to be a tribute to the hard working Americans who were helping pull the country out of the Great Depression. Grant Wood also was trying to represent his area of the country. He was one of the leaders of the American Regionalism movement in which artists sought to depict life in their region of the country and elevate the rural life. (Andrew Wyeth was also an American Regionalist.) Some of the other American Regionalists, like Thomas Hart Benton, went further and depicted urban America as the source of America’s depression-era problems.

American Gothic has been re-created countless times. Sometimes the result is a political statement or a satire of something. However, more often the re-creations simply seems to include something the artist likes. I had a lot of fun brainstorming as I was making my own altered versions of American Gothic. Did you see my two samples above?  I love how the lady is looking enviously at the man’s Starbuck’s cup… I crack myself up. My sons really liked the Minecraft one too, but they thought I should have made the house in the background all blocky too. I told them they could do that for their re-creation!

Making a Statement with Grant Wood’s American Gothic Art Project

Since we only have 30 minutes to do this project, I’m giving students a simple line drawing version of American Gothic. After they decide what components of the original they want to alter, they have the option of tracing the parts they will NOT alter. This should help speed up the process!

Making a Statement with Grant Wood’s American Gothic Lesson plan

You can purchase the Making a Statement with Grant Wood’s American Gothic Lesson plan here. This 11 page lesson plan includes:

  • A condensed background on the artist and his famous painting, American Gothic
  • A brief explanation of the art genre, American Regionalism
  • 4 printable pictures of Grant Wood’s work and a self-portrait of the artist
  • A carefully crafted sentence about Grant Wood (ideal for memorization)
  • Two humorous recreations of American Gothic by Julie Abels
  • Vocabulary words and definitions
  • Materials list
  • Simple art project instructions
  • Suggestions for scaling the project to different ages
  • Two line drawings of “American Gothic” with different levels of detail

Making a Statement with Grant Wood's American Gothic

Are you wondering what the rest of our Classical Conversations drawing art projects look like for cycle 3? Here they are! I’m making them available at a discount in the All American Drawing Package, or you can buy each separately:

  1. Drawing Basic Shapes with American Landmarks Lesson Plan
  2. Drawing the U.S. Capitol Building using Symmetry Lesson Plan
  3. Drawing Upside Down Ships Lesson Plan
  4. Using Color like Andy Warhol Lesson Plan
  5. Tricking the Eye with Op Art Lesson Plan
  6. Making a Statement with Grant Wood’s American Gothic Lesson Plan

You can see what our art projects for the first six weeks of last year (CC, cycle 2) looked like here.

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