As an art teacher, sometimes I bristle when people ask me to make “decorations.” There are a few exceptions – I am always excited to do a unit on papel picado for Cinco de Mayo. When the music teacher told me about a concert the symphony would be putting on for the community at our school and asked if the art students would like to be involved, I jumped at the chance!
She told me that one of the themes of the concert was going to be the eagle. I decided to create a challenge assignment for the students and leave the medium and interpretation of the eagle up to them.
It was incredible to see how many different directions the students took their ideas. I made a list of possible media on the board and let them decide if they wanted to work alone or with a partner.
Because the art was going to be viewed from far away, I made one of the limitations of the challenge be that their artwork had to be at least 12″ X 18″ – many students went much larger than that.
The artwork turned out incredible! Having it displayed along the walls when the symphony played made a big impact. It was a great opportunity for a lot of them to work with larger pieces of paper.
Supplies: Watercolors, Lino-cut materials, Chalk pastels, Sharpies, Colored pencil
High school students design a solution to the challenge “Create a piece of artwork using only paper and adhesives.”
- Paper (Construction, card stock, origami, etc.),
- Adhesives (Glue, tape, staples, etc.)
At the beginning of the second semester, I decided I wanted to try something new. With such small classes, I felt like I could open up the projects so that students had more room to explore. I came up with the idea of presenting assignments as “challenges.”
The first challenge they did was simple: I asked them to create a piece of artwork using only paper and adhesives.
In order to get their brains thinking of ideas, I showed them a PowerPoint filled with examples of artwork that were made out of paper. I made it very broad so that they could see how many different directions they could take their project. I didn’t leave the PowerPoint up while they sketched because I wanted to encourage them to come up with their own solution instead of copying another project exactly.
Another way I helped them to think of ideas was to list examples of all the different kinds of paper and adhesives that we had in the room. If a student was stuck coming up with an initial idea, I would help them begin to narrow it down by asking them if they wanted to make a 3D or 2D piece of artwork.
Instead of requiring them to do a sketch first, I told them they could choose between sketching or experimenting with an idea. I was impressed by how many of them took their experiment seriously and came up with some very cool results.