Fourth Grade students are beginning a unit on the American artist Grant Wood. From his humble beginnings on a small farm in Iowa, Grant Wood became one of America’s most famous Regionalist painters. His painting, American Gothic, painted in 1930, is now recognized by millions around the world. It has become an icon much like the Mona Lisa. The students looked for clues within the painting to guess the time and place. They described the background buildings, the style of dress and expressions on the two figures pictured as serious, plain, and old-fashioned.
I gave each student a photocopied image of American Gothic. I asked them to create an artistic parody of the painting. I showed them examples of parodies where the farmer and daugther are dressed up as rock stars, cartoon characters and super heroes. A parody is a humorous imitation that changes the tone of a famous work. The students get a chance to poke fun at this iconic work and bring it in to the 21st century. I usually do this project around Halloween and the students all have a lot of fun “dressing up” the characters with a new twist.