I work in a high school just outside Madrid. When I realized that my students couldn't name a single American artist, I decided to give them a crash course in the biggies. (I've never been a huge Rothko fan, but let me tell you, I started to come around in the process of explaining to a room of sullen teens why he matters. I ended up closing my eyes and grabbing at my heart a lot, and I definitely said at one point: "Being surrounded by his paintings is like reading a poem." What??? They weren't convinced.)
I ended the class with an activity in which I described paintings that students couldn't see, and they had to draw them: "There is a woman on the left and a man on the right. The man is bald and wearing round glasses," etc. Here's what they came up with for Grant Wood's "American Gothic."
Bonus: The Best Hurricane Sandy Missive I Received
"Down by the Fairway waterfront where all of those artist studios are the surge broke into the first floor studios drawing out paint and chalk across the whole walkway, splashing it back up against the side of the building, wave by wave, making this insane rainbow colored splatter paint all across the Red Hook shore. There must have been mostly red paint because the ocean in that little alcove has turned a deep maroon." –my friend Rita
Gillian Brassil teaches English in Madrid.