At the beginning of the school year, each art teacher in the Westborough Public Schools gets to choose a month in which he or she will display his or her students' artwork on the third floor of the Forbes Building where the school district's offices are. I signed up for April, and I decided that rather than choose a selection of work from each grade, I would have all of my students collaborate on one large piece of artwork so they could all have something on display.
The artwork was inspired by that of Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Students in each grade learned about Hundertwasser and his art by viewing a PowerPoint presentation.
Students loved Hundertwasser's trees (or lollipops, as many of them called them), and were excited to learn that they would be making them themselves. The first part though, was to create the background. Huge pieces of paper were spread across each table for students to cover with blue and green paint.
The next step was for students to create Hundertwasser inspired trees via drawing concentric circles with oil pastels. Students had the freedom to make their trees look however they wanted, using whatever colors they wanted.
After each class had finished making and cutting out their trees, I cut the painted paper in half so that I had ten long strips in all.
When students arrived for class the following week, they were each given a tree to glue onto the background. As this was a collaborative piece, the tree that each student glued on was not his or her own. It was fun to watch the students as they figured out where to put their trees. The older students really worked together as they decided that they didn't want to put trees of similar colors close together. The last class to glue trees on had quite the challenge as they had to decide how they would fit them into a space that was getting rather crowded. I tried to stay in the background as much as possible throughout this process, and was really proud of each and every student as they worked together to make this collaborative piece.
Here are the panels before the last class added theirs:
What a stunning piece of collaborative art! Here is one panel on display at the Forbes Building.
Back in November, each class earned ten sparkly star stickers on the "Superstar Artists" chart that is hanging in the art room. Students earn one sticker each time they follow the eight "rules of the art room" for the entire class. Once they have earned ten, they get a clay day.
Students worked with clay during the weeks between Thanksgiving and December break. They learned about the different stages of clay (wet, leather-hard, bone dry, and bisque). Finally, they learned about glazing and firing again to complete their pieces. After the ceramics came out of the kiln for the final time, students were graphic designers for a day and designed a paper bag to put their pieces in to safely transport them home.
Kindergarteners used cookie cutters to make pretty ornaments, first graders made adorable little snowmen, second graders pinched balls of clay into beautiful pots, and third graders pressed slabs of clay into wonderful photo frames.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to take any pictures of Kindergarten or third grade in action, but I will definitely catch them next time! I also don't have any pictures of finished work, which is really too bad because everything came out so nice. The finished pieces basically came out of the kiln and were immediately wrapped up and packed up to take home. Stay tuned though, because students are quickly earning more stickers towards their next clay day, and more pictures will be taken :-)
So for now...
Here are some first graders assembling their snowmen. This class does not meet in the art room, so students used air-dry clay. They learned how to attach pieces by scoring with a fork and slipping with water.
The following week, the clay had completely dried and hardened. Students painted their pieces using liquid tempera. The final product was amazing!
Second graders did a great job on their pinch pots! Here you can see them glazing their bisque clay.
Here is a picture of some frames made by third graders, all glazed and ready to be fired in the kiln!
And last but not least, a few Kindergarten students designing their bags.
Fantastic work, students! I am looking forward to our next clay days!
As promised, here are some finished (or nearly finished) Perfect Squares. I had planned to spend one more class on them, but we had to begin our Square 1 Art fundraiser projects so we could meet the deadline for submission. Students who did not finish their Perfect Squares will have time in the future to do so. But for now, please enjoy these!
Students in all grades (K-3) began the year by doing the same project. The idea for this project came from the book "Perfect Square" by Michael Hall. Here is a YouTube video that animates the first couple of pages of the book:
For the first two classes, I read the book first, then had each student choose a 6 x 6" colored square to cut. I was noticing that many students started cutting shapes from the square with a picture as to what they were going to turn their square into already in their mind. For the remainder of the classes, I decided to have them choose and cut a square before I read the book. They didn't know why they were cutting up a square, and thus the project became more of a challenge after I read the book and they learned that they had to create something from their cut up square (which was great!).
So here is what went on in the art room for Project #1, Perfect Square:
First, students chose a square:
Next, they cut or tore the square into pieces, and could even wrinkle it up if they wanted to:
Once the square was all cut, torn, and wrinkled, students arranged their pieces on an 18 x 12" piece of paper and watched their "perfect square" transform into something completely different right before their eyes!
When all of the pieces were arranged into a composition, students glued them into place:
After all pieces were glued to the paper, students used crayons, Twistables, magic markers, and/or watercolors to add details to their compositions:
Some students even decided to each make one piece of what would become one large composition, which I thought was great use of imagination and creativity:
Please stay tuned for photos of the final results. They came out amazing!