Thursday, January 31, 2013

Teaching Structure: Charles Clarey inspired Paper Sculptures

Have you ever heard of a paper sculptor named Charles Clary?


The "paper cut" I made in the TAEA workshop.
Well, I literally stumbled upon him a few years ago at an art crawl here in Nashville. Later that year I attended a workshop offered by TAEA and he was my teacher! After that, I was hooked! I love the bright colors and organic shapes and think it is a great way to teach collaboration and installation with young students. I am doing this lesson with third grade and it is a favorite.

First we begin the discussion about structure using our idea books. I ask the students to think of as many geometric shapes as they can and draw them.  Geometric shapes are shapes that can be defined mathematically, but for this exercise we looked at any shape you could name, squares, circles, even chevrons, and 3-D forms. Then we talk about what the word "organic"means, defined it, refined our definition for art and came up with "irregular shapes". These shapes are most often found in nature but are to varied to be named.
Then we learned about Charles Clary. We read an article in Wired (2010) and looked at his construction methods and installations. I focused on the "towers" and students began to cut intuitive organic shapes (no drawing first!). On the back , students marked each piece with their initials and the number it would be in the tower (TA-1, TA-2 and so on). This helps to remember which side will be up as well as which piece goes where. Once they had created 3-10 pieces that grew in size, we connected them with 3-D O's. These are amazing! They are basically pieces of foam core with adhesive on both sides. I use the O's and then cut up the "spaces" and use them too!

Once the towers are completed and assembled, the students deposit them on a large class organic shape that I have cut. We gather around the table and discuss balance and scale. It is no longer about "your" tower, now it is about how all the pieces fit together! Once assembled and balanced we take the finished class piece out into the hall way and "install" it on the wall. As each class finished our installation grows. It is an exciting process to watch!

 This is only three of our five classes installed. This thing will spread down the wall like that nasty stomach virus that has been going around...viruses are one of the phenomena that inspires Clary's work...but ours is beautiful and less likely to make you sick!

So, how do I assess this...well, this is one of those short, building units so I don't do a written assessment (assessment is my nemisis  and has therefore become my new best friend). I do a lot of observation. I can see in the idea book exercise how many geometric shapes they can generate and anything more than eight shapes drawn is excellent. I ask them to practice drawing five organic shapes before I ask them to cut. I model and look for good craftsmanship in cutting and assembly. I watch how they collaborate and use vocabulary while arranging the towers and how they interact with each other. These observations show understanding and growth, the evidence is in the idea book pages (pre-test) and the completed class installations (post-test). They have shown that they can draw, cut, describe and identify organic shapes as well as differentiate between organic and geometric shapes.

Here is the final result! This instillation includes all five third grade classes. It was finished this week!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Calling all ArtzManiacs!

Well, I did it!
This is it, my first post. I have been saying for years that I need to start a blog. There are a lot of reasons to start a blog and I have read and reviewed many different kinds, but this blog is about art. I have read a lot of blogs and discovered that there are a lot of things that I didn't know or ideas that I had never thought of before. That really got me thinking...Hey! Maybe I know something that would help someone else too!! Something so routine to me that I never thought it worth sharing. Some of those things have changed the way I do things for the better, so why not try to pay it forward!

So- why should I listen to you-crazy lady?
I have been teaching elementary visual art since 1998 which makes children and their art my passion. I have a BS in (well, bs, some would say, but officially it's in) Art Education and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction. I am a National Board Certified Teacher in Visual Arts- Early/Middle Childhood (which is ages 3-12) and I am certified to teach in both Tennessee and Pennsylvania (Art K-12). I serve on many (too many sometimes) committees and boards for local museums, art and educational organizations. I have presented and facilitated workshops for art teachers locally and nationally. Now, I don't tell you all this to brag but to give you a little info on my background so that what I share has some credibility, and so that you know that what I share is standards/research based and, well fun!

Are you in the right place?
Well if you are an elementary art educator, you are in the right place! I am also a mom of two young children so I love doing art with them as well. I have had people from church members to pre-school teachers ask me for art ideas and I really think this is the best forum, so if you are an artsy person with children in your life who wants to do art at home for fun or homeschooling, you are also in the right place! This blog is for all of you "Art Maniacs" out there so if you are crazy about art and sharing the creative process with children, this is the blog for you! Enjoy-Tina