Lesson 14.4: Art Connection

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Baseball Swings Into Art

Take me out to the...art museum? Yes, you've heard right! Recently, baseball was honored with a new art exhibit. The exhibit, "The Perfect Game—America Looks at Baseball," celebrated our national pastime. It appeared at the American Folk Art Museum in New York City.

To enter the exhibit, visitors walked through a turnstile similar to one they would find at a baseball stadium. Inside, more than 100 baseball-related objects dating from 1840 through the present were on display. Among the many objects were painted baseballs, scorecards, baseball cards, bats, arcade games, weathervanes, artwork, and even an autographed quilt.

"It's baseball history and trivia," said Elizabeth Warren, who organized the exhibit. "It combines baseball and art."

Warren said that Jackie Robinson was depicted on many of the objects, more than any other baseball player. In 1947, Jackie Robinson made history. He became the first African American baseball player in the major leagues when he joined the Dodgers, then a Brooklyn, New York, team. Today, the Dodgers play for Los Angeles.

"Jackie Robinson was a hero both on and off the field," said Warren. "He's such a great role model."

The exhibit also contained art and artifacts linked to other baseball notables such as Mike "King" Kelly and Hank Greenberg and teams made up of women and other minority groups.

Gerard C. Wertkin, director of the museum, said, "This exhibition wonderfully illustrates the deep impact of baseball on our national consciousness. The engaging objects document how the game inspired generations of folk artists and entered everyday life in remarkable ways, in the nineteenth century as well as today."

One reporter asked a museum worker to tell which particular work of art got the most attention from the visiting public. "That's easy," she said. "It's the Yankee needlework pictures!"

The Yankee pictures are neither paintings nor drawings. Made up of threads taken from torn socks and shoelaces, they are individual pictures of Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Roger Maris, and the other players from the Yankees 1963 team. These players had been the heroes of the artist, a man who had a lot of time to create them while he was in prison!

Word Wise

pastime:
An enjoyable activity on which to spend time: Since biking is my favorite pastime, I sometimes ride for hours at a time.

trivia:
Unimportant facts: The scouts shared camping trivia as they set up their tents.

depict:
Show, or represent: In her painting, the child depicted herself with her baby brother.

artifact:
An object or tool that was made by a person: When we looked through Grandma's attic, we found cooking artifacts that she hadn't used for years.

notable:
Distinguished or prominent person: After the dinner, the governor, mayor, and other notables will address the audience.

consciousness:
All of someone's ideas and feelings about a subject: Everyone at the parents' meeting shared a consciousness about their children's education.

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Activity

Some of the Word Wise terms above are often misspelled. Find out what kind of mistakes people often make when they try to spell some of your vocabulary words. Ask a few classmates or family members to take a short spelling test. Then ask them to write the spellings of these words: pastime, trivia, and consciousness. Compare the test results. Did most people remember that there is just one "s" and just one "t" in pastime? Did most realize that trivia ends with the letters "ia"? How did most people spell the "sh" sound in consciousness?

Data Hunt

A baseball diamond, or infield, is not shaped like a diamond at all. Instead, it is shaped like a square that measures 90 feet on a side.

You know that a square is a regular polygon with four right angles. Each interior angle of a square measures 90°. Find the sum of the interior angles of shapes that you can make. Make your shapes using a tangram. Here's how:

Work with a partner or a small group. You will need a tangram. If you don't have a tangram, print the Tangram Square Worksheet (PDF file) and cut out the seven tangram pieces.

The pieces that make up the tangram square are two congruent large triangles, two small triangles, and one each of the following: a square, a parallelogram, and a medium triangle.

  1. Make a shape by putting any two or more pieces together so that a complete side of one piece touches a complete side of another piece.
  2. Identify the interior angles and the exterior angles in your shape.
  3. Find the sum of the interior angles of the shape. You can use a protractor to measure these angles. Or, you can use the tangram pieces to measure. (Remember: All the angles of the square have the same measure, but each of the other pieces has angles of two different sizes.)
  4. Now change your shape. Move the tangram pieces that you used for your first shape to make a different shape. Identify the interior angles in this shape. Then find the sum of their measures.
  5. Compare the sum of the measures of your two shapes. Talk about whether the sum of the angle measures were the same or different and why.

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