The Artist of No Man’s Land

The Artist of No Man’s Land

This 90-minute activity will allow students to discover more about the war experiences of Horace Pippin. Through his diary and artwork, students will analyze the experience of trench warfare according to Pippin.

Guiding Questions

  • How were the realities of trench warfare reflected in the diary and the painting of Horace Pippin?

Learning Outcomes

The student will be able to:

  • Analyze a painting.
  • Interpret and analyze a diary entry.
  • Write an argumentative essay about the painting and diary entry.
  • Write their own journal entry.

Pre-activities

Display the painting, The End of the War: Starting Home (1930-1933). Ask the students to look at the painting and answer the following questions:

  • What is going on in the painting? What makes you think that?
  • What objects seem to be revered in the painting? What makes you think that? Why might the artist have included them?
  • How does this painting reflect what you already know about World War I?
  • How does the painting reflect the African American experience in World War I?

Activities

  • Assign students to share their answers to the pre-activities with at least two other students in the class.
  • Assign students to read an excerpt from Pippen’s diary.
  • After they read the diary entry, assign the students to outline the events that took place in the diary entry.
  • Also, as they read the diary entry have each student write down the personal details that Pippin included.
  • Next, have the students discuss the following questions:
    • Why are Pippen’s details important?
    • How do they help the reader?
    • What do they tell us about Pippen?
    • What questions do you have about the writer?
  • Assign the students to view and analyze the photographs from American Armies and Battlefields in Europe: A History, Guide, and Reference Work.
  • Next, ask the students to discuss what those photographs reveal about the setting in which Pippen fought.
  • Ask the students to compare the photographs to the Pippen painting.
  • Assign the students to write their own journal entry about an important event in their lives.
  • In a class discussion, assign students to compare and contrast the diary entry and the painting

Assessment

Essay: Construct a 1-2 page paper answering the following question:

How is the African American experience in World War I reflected in the artwork and diary entry of Horace Pippen?

Rubric for Essay
A – student uses at least three pieces of evidence from the artwork and the diary to argue that the African American
experience is or is not reflected.
B – student uses between one and three pieces of evidence from the artwork and the diary to argue that the African American
experience is or is not reflected.
C – student uses no pieces of evidence from the artwork or the diary.

Alternative Assessment
Assign the students to use their own journal entry of the important event in their lives and create a work of art that represents that event. The students must include an accompanying caption to the art that explains how it represents the event.

Rubric for Art
A – student creates a work of art and explains how it represents the event discussed in their personal journal.
C – student creates a work of art, but does not explain how it represents the event discussed in their personal journal.
D – student does not create a work of art.

Materials Needed

Document A: The End of the War: Starting Home Pippen completed this painting nearly 15 years after the war. Painting became a part of the healing process for Pippen. This painting is housed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Document B: Diary Entry The excerpt from the diary is pages 54-55 of a 62-page diary, image 30 in this collection. Just before
this particular entry in the diary, Pippen was involved in a military offensive campaign on September 26, 1918. In the campaign, Pippen was shot in right shoulder and arm. Pippen was immobilized, hungry, and thirsty lying in or near No Man’s Land. The diary picks up where a French soldier comes to assist him.

Document C: Photographs from American Armies and Battlefields in Europe: A History, Guide, and Reference Work.
These photographs taken from an ABMC book provide the students with real images of what Pippen saw when he fought in
France.