Teacher Blogs

It's Going to be a Really Exciting Year!
Posted 09/29/2016 08:41PM

By Alice Shih-Kahn, Upper School Art

September 29, 2016

Visual Arts II students are a great mix of 9-12th grade students with a variety of skills and techniques—but all have the same investment in a year-long art course. To start the year, they were given a 20-minute challenge: make something "artistic" with the materials provided.

Since we each define artistic very differently, and since each person has a unique brain, imagination and ability to create, it was an enlightening way to begin the year. One project is not better than another because of the material and the approach. This type of activity gives students an opportunity to be experimental and playful, encouraging them to have fun with art and remind them about individual creativity and imagination.

This challenge also helps transition into our first unit, sculptural books. We started with old sets of encyclopedias that the Upper School librarian was deaccessioning last year. As an artist and an art teacher, I could not ignore the potential in the books as a medium for a large project. So, students began deconstructing and altering those retired encyclopedias using basic art supplies, such as markers, magazines, glue, straws, scissors and a few other items.

Each student chose one and based their idea on the content of a book—either an encyclopedia or another book they may have chosen. For example, one might build a three-dimensional depiction of the Pac-Man game board carved into and built from a book about pop culture in America in the 1980s. This unit allows students to develop concept drawings, sculpt, carve and build. There are numerous inventive ideas that are just now beginning to come to life.

With this assignment, the students were challenged to think, make and then share. Throughout the year the students will participate in peer critiques and provide constructive comments or questions for their classmates. They must begin to practice using visual language to communicate what they think and WHY they think it.

Look for my next post to see some of the finished products!

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