Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sculptures from recycled materials

Students in grades K-1 worked on sculptures made from recycled materials, throughout the month of March. 

To begin the process, the kids an I looked at sculptures by several artists who work with recycled and found materials, and we discussed why an artist might want to use recycled materials.  Specifically, we focused on the work of outsider artist Emery Blagdon, who makes very cool hanging works of art using the things he finds and has around.
Next, students envisioned what a toilet paper tube could become by taking turns using an overhead projector to draw on a transparency.  This helped the ideas start flowing.  As a final envisioning step, students drew up an individualized plan using pencil for how they wanted to transform their recycled form. 

Look at the long legs on this person/robot!

Through the making of this project, students learned about what it means to attach, and how sculptors attach and build using many different materials.  They learned that some forms of attachment work better than others when using certain materials.   Students also learned that sculptures have "bones" that are the supporting structure, and "skin" that gives the sculptures color and texture.

I had the room set up in such a way where students could access their own building materials in a "sculpture studio".  I had one bin for thin cardboard, one for cardboard tubes and cartons, one for foil, and another for plastic forms.   Over two classes, I demonstrated three different forms of attachment: tape, glue, and tie and sew (sewing with pipe cleaners), and we had stations set up around the room where students could any or all of these methods of attachment for both the bones and skin of their sculptures. 

When we did move on to attaching "skin"(texture and color) to the sculptures, students accessed those materials as well, choosing from a variety of things in containers that were above the building materials. 

As a class, we discussed all of the wonderful things around the classroom you can use for skin.  You can use drawing materials, fabrics, tissue paper, buttons, feathers and more.  The kids took advantage of all of these resources, and did so with a discerning eye, as they figured out how to express their idea and transform their recycled plastic or cardboard cylinder into something else entirely. 

I really encouraged the kids to cover up all of their tape and cardboard with skin, so that it would look finished, and so they could keep the mystery as to how they built it.

As a last step, parents helped hot glue the sculptures to cardboard bases.

This particular one has a lot going on the more you look!

We heart googly eyes!

The Kindergarten student who made this horses neck, did so originally out of tin foil, and later on adding the brown tissue paper as skin. She used sewing with pipe cleaners as a form of attachment.  

Tin foil helped robots look like robots.  Note: some things did need to be hot glued on with the help of an adult!

This student added extra details and color to her base, to further express her idea.

As you can see the kids did a wonderful job of completely transforming a recycled form into a new and exciting sculpture.

A very special thank you to all of those parent volunteers who helped the students express their idea and be independent in the studio, as they manned the glue gun and helped students to problem-solve.  Also, thank you to Kitty Conde who gave me the idea and suggestions for this project.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Envisioning a Public Sculpture


After making small sculptures, the students in grades K-1 were ready to learn about large public sculptures.  To do so, I introduced them to  the amazing feat and beauty of Watts Towers by reading this book.

They couldn't believe that one man spent 33 years building a gigantic series of sculptures in his backyard, all by himself!
Next, students were given a piece of paper that had a cut-out of a person to show a sense of scale. After sharing out some ideas for sculptures they might like to build in their own backyard or have in downtown Chicago, they then went to town designing a public sculpture. 
Below are some of the fabulous ideas our students envisioned.   
I was thrilled. 

If we do this again next year, I think we should mail in some of the drawings to the mayor, and suggest they adopt these proposals. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Introduction to Sculpture

Students in grades 4, 5 and 6 were introduced to sculpture through both a slide show of sculptures and a one-day sculpture challenge. 

 First, we looked at many different sculptures and discussed the difference between 2-Dimensional art and 3-Dimensional sculpture.  Sculpture asks an artist to consider all sides and angles of their work.  

"Swing Set", representational sculpture by 4th grader

 Next,  we learned that sculptures can be representational or non-representational.  Students have since been using these art terms to describe other things we are looking at in class.  It is great!

Non-representational sculpture by 5th grader
Non-representational by 6th graders

At last we got to the art making itself, and students were given the challenge of creating a representational OR a non-representational sculpture using only brown paper (crumple or twist), string, cardboard from cereal boxes and tape.

                            The results were quite diverse.

Representational sculpture of "ice cream" by 4th grader