Curriculum Spotlight: 7th Grade Study of Japan

As part of the 7th grade social studies courses, Marianne Kabir's class undertakes a study of Japan. This year, the study of Japan emphasized two points in time. First, the Heian Period in which the arts flourished, Zen Buddhism mixing with the aesthetics of new forms of novels, poetry and visual arts. Second, the devastations wrought by Hiroshima and the effect this had on young people at the time. Artists who lived through this time often focused on the devastation and the horrors of war, with the hope of averting another nuclear bomb. 

The final project for the Japan unit was an individual project in which students chose and studied a Japanese artist. They considered the artist within their historical context and studied the methods which the artist used. Students then created their own artwork, inspired by the artist, and wrote a paper on them. 

The class was lucky to also visit the Asian Art Museum and see examples of modern art which was inspired by the Rinpa school in medieval Japan, World War II, the tsunami in Japan, and climate change. Students particularly loved the Murakami exhibit and several of them had chosen him as their artist.

The art the students produced was thoughtful, imaginative and creative, ranging from detailed dioramas of medieval castles to polka dot pumpkins a la Yayoi Kusama.


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