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TeachNet Disseminator Grant      << Back to all Grant Winners

Up From Flames: Mapping Bushwick's Recovery 1977-2007

Subject: History, geography, social studies, art, photography

Grade Level: 6-8

Materials: Computer with Internet access, pencils, Up From Flames worksheets

About: In the aftermath of the 1977 blackout in New York City, burning and looting took place in Bushwick and finally caught the attention of the city and the country after a period of neglect. It was during those darkest hours that Bushwick’s recovery began, and it continues to this day. Up From Flames brings the mapping process to life. Students learn to use primary source materials (newspaper articles, photographs, maps, and interviews with community members and officials) to examine the causes and effects that resulted in a downward cycle of decay and neglect as well as the subsequent “rise from ashes” of this dynamic urban community.

By examining historic documents and photographs as well as artistic reinterpretations of documentary images, students imagine and sketch what devastated areas of Bushwick look like today and what they might look like in the future. They sketch what their own community looked like in the past and how it might develop in the future.

The students examine primary documents to investigate, interpret, and theorize about factors that influence a community. They gain an appreciation of the importance of planning and working together on a local level to foster positive change in a community that has suffered from a disaster. They deconstruct the name of the website and exhibit “Up From Flames: Mapping Bushwick’s Recovery 1977-2007”.

Your students don’t have to have ever heard of Bushwick to learn life lessons from this urban area. The students try on “many hats”; they take on the roles of historians, geographers, cartographers, curators, and artists while conducting this web search about Bushwick.

upfromflames.com/uff_pov/uff_pov.html

 Objectives
Students will gain understanding about the significance of how and why curators and artists title their work and exhibits. They decipher the meaning of this project title “Up From Flames: Mapping Bushwick’s Recovery 1977-2007”
Students will learn about the effects of the 1977 blackout in NYC’s history.
Students will examine evidence from primary documents.
Students will theorize, using evidence they found, why there was a wave of arson in Bushwick during the 1970s.
Students will find evidence and reflect on how individuals and small and large groups can work to help a community recover from difficulty and disaster.
Students can imagine change in Bushwick and in their own community.

Websites
A website about Bushwick’s Recovery from 1977 to 2007. It includes primary source material for the students to examine and interpret.
http://upfromflames.com
Up From Flames – Point of View. This section includes an artist statement, and photographs and artwork by an artist/educator (and author of this TeachNet project) who worked in Bushwick.
http://upfromflames.com/uff_pov/uff_pov.html
The Brooklyn Historical Society, where the “Up From Flames” exhibit was installed. The student can learn more about Brooklyn’s history on this site.
http://brooklynhistory.org/default/index.html
Wikipedia introduction to Bushwick includes information about the history, community organizing, and famous people of this area.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushwick,_Brooklyn
Information about Bushwick from the 1929 WPA Guide to NYC.
http://brooklyn.net/neighborhoods/bushwick.html
In this audio slide show, a Serbian photographer discovers the mean streets of Bushwick.
http://time.com/time/photoessays/2007/boogie_bushwick/
Bushwick Open Studios and Arts Festival
http://artsinbushwick.org/
Forgotten New York takes you to the home of the first American to reach the North Pole, Dr. Cook, and visits other mansions in Bushwick.
http://forgotten-ny.com/STREET%20SCENES/bushwick/bushwick.html

Standards
Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the geography of the interdependent world in which we live.
6-8
Social Studies - Geography
Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the necessity for establishing governments; the governmental system of the U.S. and other nations; the U.S. Constitution; the basic civic values of American constitutional democracy; and the roles, rights, and responsibilities of citizenship, including avenues of participation.
6-8
Social Studies- Civics, Citizenship and Government
Students will respond critically to a variety of works in the arts, connecting the individual work to other works and to other aspects of human endeavor and thought.
6-8
The Arts- Responding To and Analyzing Works of Art
Know and use a variety of visual arts materials, techniques, and processes. Students will know about resources and opportunities for participation in visual arts in the community (exhibitions, libraries, museums, galleries) and use appropriate materials (art reproductions, slides, print materials, electronic media).
6-8
The Arts-Knowing and Using Arts

Day 1: What's in a Name?
Objectives
Students will gain greater understanding of the thought process that curators and artists go through when they name their exhibits or works of art.
Students will decode the meaning of title “Up From Flames: Mapping Bushwick’s Recovery 1977 – 2007.”
Materials
pencil or pen
page one of “Up From Flames Viewing Guide”
Procedures
Teacher will elicit from students the meaning of their names or whom they were named after.
Teacher will elicit a classroom discussion about the thought processes people go through in choosing a name for their child or pet.
The class will discuss how and why authors, filmmakers, musicians and artists give a tremendous amount of thought into what they name their work products (book, story, song, movie, artwork).
Page one of the Up From Flames Viewing Guide, entitled “What’s In A Name?” will be distributed to each student.
Students will work individually or in groups of two to fill in the blanks of the page with pencil or pen.
After everyone has completed the worksheet, the students will share aloud what they wrote on the worksheet. The teacher or student volunteer will write their replies on the board.
Teacher will collect the Viewing Guide or ask students to bring them back the following day to class.
Homework
Each student will choose a title of a book, movie, or a work of art. Each student will try to decode the meaning of the title and write why they think the author or artist chose this title.
Assessment
Were the students able to decode the meaning of the title of the exhibit and website “Up From Flames: Mapping Bushwick’s Recovery 1977-2007”?

Day 2: Up From Flames Investigative Treasure Hunt
Objectives
Students will investigate the website www.upfromflames.com.
Students will examine primary documents: maps, photographs, newspaper articles, and excerpts of interviews with community officials and residents.
Students will learn about the events in Bushwick that preceded and followed the 1977 blackout in NYC.
Students will use evidence from the primary documents to theorize about the causes of devastation in the community of Bushwick during the 1970s.
Students will reflect on the role of individuals and community groups to aid in the recovery of Bushwick.
Materials
Internet access
computer terminals for small groups or individual students
Page 2 of the Up From Flames Viewing Guide
pencils or pens
Procedures
Teacher will redistribute the Up From Flames Viewing Guide and instruct students they will focus on page 2 today.
Students will log on to www.upfromflames.com to examine primary documents about Bushwick.
Student will work individually or in groups of two to explore the website.
Students will work individually or in groups of two to fill in the blanks and write their answers to the questions on page 2 of the Up From Flames Viewing Guide.
Teacher will elicit from students their comments and findings of today’s research.
At the end of class, teacher will collect the Up From Flame Viewing Guides or instruct students to bring them back to next class.
Homework
Students will write a paragraph describing how their own community has changed over the past 30 years. Students will write a second paragraph imagining how they think their community will be similar or different in 30 years.
Assessment
Were the students able to work in pairs to view primary documents about Bushwick in order to fill in the blanks and write answers to the questions on page 2 of the Up From Flames Viewing Guide?

Day 3: Point of View: Extend Reality
Objectives
Students will analyze Meryl Meisler’s photographs of Bushwick.
Student will analyze Meryl’s Meisler’s “extended realities” series.
Students will use the written word to describe everything they see in a photograph.
Students will use their imagination to make creative re-interpretations, “extended realities” of documentary photographs.
Materials
Up From Flames Viewing Guide, page 3
Internet access
Computer terminals with Internet access for student to view www.upfromflames.com individually or small groups.
pens or preferably pencils for sketching
Procedures
Teacher distributes page 3 of Up From Flames Viewing Guide.
Students log on to http://upfromflames.com/uff_pov/uff_pov.html
Instruct the students to read Meryl Meisler’s artist statement and then view slide shows of her photo-based work of Bushwick.
Students use the viewing guide to help them delve into Meryl Meisler’s experience and photographs about Bushwick in the 1980s.
Students focus on Meryl’s “Extended Reality” series, in which she transformed photographs with paint and mixed media.
Each student chooses a photograph on www.upfromflames.com that they find appealing.
Each student uses their imagination to transform their chosen photograph, and sketches their new work of art, with a pencil, on the work sheet.
Homework
Students write an artists statement of their own, describing the inspiration and intent of today’s sketch.
Assessment
Did the students find information about Bushwick by viewing Meryl Meisler’s photographs? Were the students able to complete the questions on the work sheet? Did each student create an “extended reality” by finding a photograph of Bushwick and use a pencil to sketch and change the image?

Day 4: Bring the Past to the Present and Predict the Future
Objectives
Students will choose a historical photograph of Bushwick and sketch what they think that scene would look like today.
Students will choose another historical photograph of Bushwick and sketch what they think that predict what that scene will look like thirty years into the future.
Materials
Page 4 of “Up From Flames Viewing Guide”
Internet access
pencils
other drawing and painting media optional
Procedures
Teacher distributes page 4 of the Up From Flames Viewing Guide.
Students log onto www.upfromflames.com.
Each student chooses a historical photograph of Bushwick and sketches what they think that scene would look like today.
Each student chooses another historical photograph of Bushwick and sketches what they think that scene will look like thirty years from now.
Homework
Each student writes an artist’s statement about what they sketched today. The artist’s statement will include why they chose these images, a description of what they drew, and why they made these predictions about these scenes.
Assessment
Did each student choose a historical photograph of Bushwick and sketch what they thought the scene would look like today? Did each student choose another historical photograph of Bushwick and sketch what they thought the scene would look like thirty years from today?

Meryl Meisler

mmeisle@schools.nyc.gov

Institute for Collaborative Education
345 East 15th St.
New York, NY 10001

Meryl Meisler is an artist and an educator. She has taught art in the NYC Public School System since 1979. At the Institute for Collaborative Education, she is Admissions Director and teaches digital and traditional art. Meryl proudly serves as a teacher representative on the Board of Trustees of The Teachers Network. She has won numerous grants and awards for her teaching and personal artwork.

 

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