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Aesop's Fables: telling tales with video.

In the mid-twentieth century, technology simplified moviemaking and video art was born. Nam-June Paik, the Korean-born American artist who died on January 29, 2006, is cited as the founding father of video art, which flourished in the late 1960s and 1970s. In those days, artists needed thousands of dollars worth of equipment and expensive editing systems to create their work. Since then, working with video has become easier and cheaper, and artists have incorporated video into installation and performance pieces in addition to video art projects.

Student Video Art Projects

New technologies have revolutionized video. We are now at the point where art teachers and their students can easily incorporate new video technologies into the art curriculum and produce professional-quality video art projects on DVDs. All you need is a Mac with iMovie or a PC with Windows MovieMaker and a digital video camera.

Even if you don't have a video camera, your students can still make movies in the style of Ken Burns by importing still images into iMovie, MovieMaker, or another video program and adding transitions and voice overs. A video project that I have had great success with is based on Aesop's Fables.

Aesop's Fables

Aesop, it is believed, was a slave of African descent who lived from about 620 to 560 Be in Ancient Greece. The fables have been and continue to be a popular choice for moral education and offer students a great opportunity to illustrate and interpret literature. For this project, a group of two or three students select a fable. Aesop's Fables, translated by Laura Gibbs, are available for free online (see address at the end of this article). Students then illustrate the fable with images downloaded from the Internet.

Student Interpretation

You may have students use their own drawn or painted images to illustrate the fable. A voice-over narrative of the fable is then added to the still clips. The second part of the fable project involves students interpreting and rewriting the fable in a present-day context. The students then dramatize their version of the fable and record and edit the video. You can see examples of my students' fables at: fables.html.


Students intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas.


Harold Olejarz is an art teacher at Eisenhower Middle School in Wyckoff, New Jersey.
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Title Annotation:Middle School Studio Lesson
Author:Olejarz, Harold
Publication:School Arts
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2006
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