Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Princess of Polka Dots!

My K, 1st, and 2nd grade art students are knee deep in our 3D clay unit. It is a fun time and the students are really enjoy it. Right now we are studying the artist Yayoi Kusama in 1st grade. Do you know anything about this Princess of Polka Dots? She uses repetition as the focus for her art installations - making many of the same thing with the same design!

This art lesson focuses on creating ceramic objects using pinch construction and textured surface design. Look at their pumpkin forms below. Can you see the texture?

When our pumpkins are fired we will glaze them with polka dots inspried by Kusama!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Narwhals are the new owls!

Isn't this narwhal just the cutest thing? I have always had a fondness for narwhal. I love them so much I think my kids should all make narwhal projects from now until the end of time. Or.....maybe this statement is just merely silly. Why would my students want to make projects about something that is important to ME? Why wouldn't they want to make art projects about things they love? As a teacher who is fortunate to see many other art teachers teaching on a regular basis I often find myself asking the question - where has the creativity gone?

It's gone to the birds. I think I may scream if I see another owl project! No offense to owls everywhere. But why owls? Do these projects teach texture? Are we studying the order Strigiformes and then using our new found knowledge to do a John Homes Audubon lesson? In most cases I would say "no"! I think teachers are teaching owls just to make owls - they're cute and the clay ones are easy for the students to make. If you were actually studying Audubon would it be a far stretch to let your students choose their own bird subject? Would it change the lesson on texture if you did?

I know I am on my soapbox tonight and for that I apologize but...as art educators I think we have a responsibility to promote creativity in our classrooms. I cannot tell you how many times a day a student asks me "like this?" about a project I am teaching. It is not that my directions are unclear that this question is asked, rather it is because my lesson is open for choices to be made and for creativity to happen. By 2nd grade students are already uncomfortable with that concept! They want to be told what it is supposed to look like and exactly how to make something. How did this happen? Ask yourself (and I will too!) that question the next time you see your students making the proverbial "owl" in your classroom and then see if you can create narwhals instead.