To begin this lesson, students will study action painting from the Abstract Expressionist movement. Students will watch videos of Jackson Pollock and Dale Chihuly painting, and compare their processes. Students will also view Pollock and Chihuly’s art-making processes in the context of existentialism. They will understand that an artist’s actions are what give his or her life meaning. Taking inspiration from these artists’ processes, students will create collaborative sculptures in response to their materials. While creating their collaborative sculpture, students will be challenged by the dynamic interplay between individual ideas and group decision-making.
Public Space Interventions: Collaborating with New Craft Artists in Action- Finger Knitted Basketball Nets
A variety of artists make artwork that intervenes in public spaces. There are many reasons why artists engage communities in their work. This lesson explores a variety of artists who make artwork that intervenes in public spaces and engage communities with their work and teaches students to finger knit a 4 foot piece of yarn with excellent technique and craftsmanship. This lesson explores how the NCAA New Craft Artists in Action Net Works project and their public space interventions with handmade basketball nets. This lesson explores how artists collaborate to make artwork and empowers students to collaborate with their peers to create a finger knitted basketball net for a neighborhood or park in our community to make a positive impact as an artist in their community.
This lesson sequence will facilitate students to collaborate, explore and experience themes that they can personally relate to on a deeper and meaningful level. The purpose of this unit is to foster a safe and creative environment for early adolescents of 11 – 14 years (7-8th grades) to explore their personal identities, their gender, their socio-cultural beliefs, their values, through critical thinking, self-reflecting, and art making. Through engaging in a conversation and exploratory dialogue to deconstruct the layers that form identity and culture, using both in the traditional and digital media (collage, printmaking, drawing, digital photography, video, Scratch programming software, Photoshop, iMovie and other digital software, and collage) students will learn to appreciate that a casual dialogue about a popular/ material/ visual culture phenomena (in this case, the Barbie) can reveal/ unfold critical insights into their deepest emotions, opinions and socio-religious inclinations by engaging with it.
I developed this lesson in my fourteenth year of teaching. I had just transferred to sixth grade general art after primarily teaching pottery classes in a high school for thirteen years. I was at a low income, high poverty school and was having a difficult time engaging my students. I had seen Robert Marbury’s work about ten years earlier and had wanted to do something with it but had never had the opportunity. Recognizing the student's need for play, I first approached this lesson with one class bringing in several garbage bags of stuffed animals my daughter had discarded.
The lesson did not begin as a study in Social Practice. It began with students simply creating a new “pet.” The first class of students began giving the pets that they had created stories and I recognized that many of the stories were personal. One young boy’s pet had just recently moved to our community and was living in an apartment, which was the exact personal experience that student was going through. Watching the students give stories and purposes to their pets that addressed their personal needs made me realize this lesson could be so much more than just making imaginary animals; we were making pets with a purpose.