Visionary Studio - Art Education


Amy Wenzel and Laura Schneider

Grade Level: 9-12

Where can humor go?

  • What makes things funny?
  • How can humor be funny and serious?
  • How can humor be used for social commentary?

This class introduces students to humor in all its complexity by investigating works of contemporary art and through the planning and execution of individual humorous artworks. To begin, we will look at the idea of humor in context, or why something is funny. Basic vocabulary related to types of humor will be introduced including satire, parody, and sarcasm. Based on examples of ‘humorous’ artworks, students discuss the reasons why something is funny, and the idea that humor can’t exist without contextual frameworks, social themes, and timely references. we will also look at how humor is often used as a vehicle for political and social commentary and critique. We will look at how types of humor such as satire, irony, and goofiness are thoughtfully chosen to best exploit the intended “joke,” commentary, or critique. Throughout the class students will practice identifying the “joke”/context and the type of humor employed.

The class is divided into three sections that provide students with a structure to produce their own humorous artworks using diverse strategies: text and image, scale, and visual metaphor. Each of these strategies rely on some form of juxtaposition to create new meaning from specific images, objects, or ideas. Students are encouraged through guided brainstorming to use their artwork to voice social critique. After practicing making humorous artwork that employ text and image, scale, and visual metaphor, students are then free to work however they choose to produce a socially conscious work of humorous art for the final exhibition.

Class Sessions

Week 1: Image and Text, Part 1

Students will explore how artists use different kinds of humor and social contexts (societal norms, taboos, presumptions) to illuminate specific societal norms that create the context for each joke.

Week 2: Image and Text, Part 2

Students will create their own social critiques by utilizing their sense of humor in a collage that includes text and image.

Weeks 3 & 4: Humor & Scale
Students will explore the idea of scale to convey humorous ideas in art by looking at contemporary artists who utilize this technique and making their own 3-dimensional exaggerated artwork.

Weeks 5 & 6: Visual Metaphor
Students will explore how visual metaphors are used to re-imagine societal norms or issues through the process of examining contemporary artwork and T-chart brainstorming in order to make their own visual metaphor.

Weeks 7 & 8: Humor in Practice

Students will produce a socially conscious work of art that employs humor to convey it’s message.

Week 9: Final Exhibition