Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mondrian Mayhem... Yes, It's 3-D!

Check out this close-up of the super cool bulletin board featuring several Mondrian-influenced relief sculptures made by my 8th Grade Visual Arts students. At first the students had a difficult time grasping the idea that Mondrian's use of simplified shapes, primary colors, black and white was revolutionary.   In each class I heard, "What's the big deal? Anybody can make a bunch of squares and color them in." With the help of an older edition of Scholastic Magazine featuring the life and work of Piet Mondrian, I was able to instill some respect for Mondrian's theories.  
I believe that the students also came away with a greater understanding of how an artist can begin making art with one set of ideas and over the course of several years, radically change and create work to reflect new discoveries and theories.  In the end, the students developed their own ideas about aesthetics and learned some valuable art history. Most importantly they each made a really great relief sculpture while experimenting with space, depth and color.  Check the next post to see the entire process, from the construction to the painting! 

The man of the moment, Piet Mondrian. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

More Models Strut Their Stuff...

Here are the rest of the pictures of my students wearing their finished paper tunics.  Check out the symmetry and balance of the designs and repeating colors that cover the entire paper "fabric".  Was this lesson fun? Oh, it was lots of fun!  Was it easy?  No, it was tons of work!  In the end, the pictures speak volumes about the students' interest and participation; so the effort, planning and time were all worth it!

Alex and her group had very unusual symbols including a claw-footed bathtub, The Alamo, lips with vampire fangs and cowboy boot ice skates!  She wore her cowboy boots for the presentation day to coordinate with the tunic!  How cool is that?!

The back had maximum impact thanks to the awesomely spooky purple vampire bat in the middle of the radial design.  There were also small paper bats floating around the collar and hemline areas.  There was no lack of imagination with this group!
This is another great example of a radial design on the back of a tunic.  Here Brian L. shows us a great cityscape that seems to beam with light thanks to the repeating diagonal lines.  Well done!

You can see Jessica working on coloring the back of this one in an earlier post.  Here she wears a tunic that looks a lot like a woven poncho.  The use of many symbols that are close together gives the garment a patchwork look.  You can find camels, the pyramids, toilets, and a female character who happens to be a plumber. There was quite a story connecting these ideas together!

Needless to say , the female plumber had her heart broken by someone!

Hannah P. is dwarfed by this stunning display of symmetry!  You can see tigers, kangaroos, the "no" symbol over a diamond ring, a crown, a pink bikini and more... 

Their person was a queen and she had great wealth!

Kyle H. from Period 3 worked on telling the visual story of a woman with two kids who is thirty-six and owns three farms.  The smaller symbols represent several different animals from her farm.  Kyle did a really nice job modeling in front of the class!

The back featured a huge saguaro cactus and the desert sun, sand and a snake.

And finally, here is Colleen from Period 2.  Her team had a slow start since they couldn't agree on who their character would be.  In the end, they did a great job creating symbols for their person: a twenty-five year old party girl living in Florida, working as a hairstylist by day.  I love the way the scissors are angled in to add directional interest to the overall symmetry.  They also tweaked the outside shape and size of the tunic so that it has a more feminine fit.  Super work!

More symbols of "fun in the sun"!  And on that note, I'm signing off and bidding farewell to the tunic lesson.  I hope you had a few chuckles, were inspired and enjoyed seeing our work!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Models Of Symmetry!

Remember this tunic from the previous post?  Now it is finished and modeled by Rourke.  Notice the symbol on the front to represent their person in "The Big Apple".  I also love the way they used the skyline stencil multiple times to make an interesting hemline.  Great job!

On the day students presented their finished tunics, there was a lot of excitement in the air. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by their 8th grade enthusiasm for wearing these paper garments.  I put out my feelers to see if they would be game for modeling in front of their classmates, and in almost every case, each group had multiple candidates.  The models were selected at the beginning of the lesson since it had to be sized for that person to wear.  Another group member needed to be in charge of the oral presentation and another needed to write the story that narrated the use of symbols and how they related the symbols to the character they had created. All of these parts came together in a group presentation where they received feedback from me as well as written and verbal feedback from their peers. All in all, it was a great lesson, and the kids were really into it!
As you look at the work, remember that Junior High students like to push the boundaries and you will see some unusual combinations of symbols used to represent their groups' imaginary character traits, occupations, and lifestyle.  I'll let you decipher the work yourself!

An ocean-inspired design tells the tale of a mermaid.  Brianna C. Models this great design in Period 2.

A heart-shaped tunic is worn by Kam from Period 1.  It features an odd couple and their fondness for video games, steak and potatoes and living in Hollywood, among other things...

Nicole's group did a nice job representing their imaginary person, a twenty-something who is British, a wealthy fashion designer who still lives with her parents.  The dress form on the back was her idea! 

Ethan S. from Period 6 is wearing a shorter version of the tunic in tribute to his groups' character who they decided was a professional basketball player.  The bulls, sneakers and large basketball help to clearly illustrate this, but wait... what's that on the back of the garment?

It seems that tough Mr. Basketball player has a love of dolphins!  The students had a really fun time "revealing" the back designs to their classmates during each presentation.  

Okay, this one had a lot of excellent symbols, great craftsmanship,a strong use of color and a really cool scalloped edge on the hem.  Kevin was eager to wear it although I thought one of the girls on his team would end up modeling it: wrong!

That's all for now, but I have more to share in the next post!  I hope you had fun seeing this work and trying to figure out the symbolism. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Terrific Tunics Tell A Unique Story

Pictured above is an intricate textile made by the anient Inca Indians. I have a large poster of this tunic in my resources and one day this image became the inspiration for the second lesson in my mini unit about textiles from different cultures.  As you can see, it is beautifully decorative as well as functional.  If you look closely you can see a slit at the top where the wearer would have put his or her head through to wear the fabric.  I think of this style of ancient traditional garment as a loose-fitting, almost poncho-like piece of clothing.  Longer than a shirt, but shorter than a dress, men and women wore them as a way to let other community members know of their social status, wealth and class.  The fancier the tunic, the higher the status in Incan society.This example is believed to have been worn by someone wealthy and it features a repeating motif of different patterns and many symmetrical geometric shapes.
   We also learned that archeaologists believe the ancient Inca did not have a written language. These garments were a way of recording information and letting others know about you!  What a great inspiration for the next lesson which I decided to call " Storyteller Tunics".

I split the students up into small groups and had them complete a planning worksheet where they wrote down the character traits, likes and dislikes of  an imaginary person.  This imaginary person would become the "owner"of the tunic, so they would need to work together to make symbols that represented the person accurately.  We used the black craft paper on that comes on a roll as the "fabric" for the garment. 
By folding the entire paper in half, students were able to line up their original symbols so that everything was symmetrical based on the fold down the middle.

When everything was traced in white pencil, we used oil pastels to add bright, contrasting colors to each symbol.  Here are Nicole Q., Ryan D. and Amber P. working together to get the parts colored.

You can see the opening at the top of the garment where one student will put it on and model their groups finished design at the end of the lesson!  Here are Madison P., Allison and Brian L, all doing their share of the coloring.

Arden works on  finishing the designs on the front of the tunic, while her group member Rourke is coloring a large design of a brick wall and a yellow taxi cab on the back.

These are really starting to look great!  Jessica B. was a really hard worker for her group... she works on finishing up the last few stripes on their huge back design. Some groups decided to finish the hem with paper fringe.  I think this added to the overall look of the paper taking on the visual texture and appeal of a textile.

I'll be sure to post the hilarious and very interesting finished work that is being worn by student models.  I still can't believe that 8th graders, especially the boys, were fighting over who would wear these tunics in front of the class!  Here is a preview:

Nick R. was up for modeling in front of his peers: Good job and cool designs!