Carousel of Animals Camp

For one week every summer I will put a pause on my Decorative and Fine Arts Camp and switch gears. From 6-12 year olds come the 12-18 year olds. We spend an entire week creating large scale carousel animal inspired sculptures. The campers design their animals, I build them wooden armatures, and then they cover them in chicken wire, papier maché and paint. Unfortunately the historic carousel was closed this summer for renovations while we held the camp, but before they tore up the roof of the carousel pavilion we were at least able to have a nice photo shoot!

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Clay Explorations

Every week at the Decorative and Fine Arts Camp we start off the week with painting in the mornings and clay in the afternoon! It’s always a big hit. We have a clay tile relief sculpture project with more specific instructions and then campers also have the freedom to do free experimentation and sculpture making. These small sculptures usually reflect their own interests, such as foods, animals or fictional characters!

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Bart Simpson

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A villager? (If you’re familiar with Minecraft you’ll understand.)

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Mushy Maché

We are having so much fun with papier maché and recycled materials this summer at the Decorative and Fine Arts Camp! Students help us amass a selection of cool shaped recyclables like berry containers cans and paper towel rolls and transform them into papier maché sculptures.

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Final Exams

As in years past, our final exam for the Foundations of Studio Art class consists of an independent project designed by the students themselves. My goal is that each student sets out to explore their personal art interests. This means they can re-visit any of the materials, techniques, and themes we have explored during the school year. They do not need to revisit an entire project, just pieces of it. This way they already know set-up and clean up processes, as well as basic techniques with their chosen material and I can focus on guiding them through their though process, and perfecting their (mostly painting) technique.

They are graded using a contract filled out by each student and signed by me before they begin. I absolutely love the results this year, take a look!

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Van Gogh on chucks.

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Work in progress.
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Andy Warhol homage.

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K-Pop fan art.
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A dyptich on wood pannels.
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A glorious acrylic sunset.
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Photo realism exploration.

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School sports.

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A vacation memory.
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A storyboard for an animated version of Pet Cemetary.
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Social justice commentary.

Final Recycled Projects

We finally finished our recycled art projects and what wonderful sculptures they turned out to be! Each group really did a phenomenal job this year finding a unique way to solve a problem: How do you give a second life to an old box? Some transformations were more extreme than others. Some students preserved their original box while others disguised and incorporated their box into a larger sculpture as a material. The breadth of materials used this year was inspiring. One group even visited a few restaurants asking for corks, because they had their heart set on using them as “stones”. Some kind business owner happily gave them two trash bags full! Another group took a more direct approach to the assignment and created a garden exploding out of a box. All were really impressive. Take a look at the results!

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New School Year!

I love the beginning of the school year. Not just because I get a fresh order of art supplies, (and who doesn’t love that smell!) but because I love the air of optimism. I get so much planning and organizing done. The end of the school year is always a powerful time for reflection, but often my energy is not focused on organization. I did do a surprising amount last year, and I’m very thankful for it this fall. Still, in the fall I’m readjusting my lesson plans and setting up all of my plans for the year ahead. I can make adjustments from last year, and tweak lesson plans based on successes and failures.

I also just love teaching color theory. Something I intentionally start the year off with because it is just such a good base for the rest of the year, but also because by October all of my freshman will be learning about the visible light spectrum in their Physics classes. Today a student asked me if I knew that they were starting to learn about light in physics and it made me so happy to say, “Yes! Isnt it awesome!” I am hoping we have more of those moments this year!

Below you can see some quick snapshots of our work so far. We made unique color wheel posters, logos on Adobe Illustrator, we mixed our very own gray, and are using this gray to start learning about value ahead of our still life painting project. You can read about this unit in more detail here.

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A Little Cross-Curicular to End The Year

I do not teach print-making to my freshman. I have found that with my ambitious goal of trying to expose my students to everything from ceramics to painting to photography, as well as instilling the elements and principles or art and design, I just run out of time. I might re-evaluate this in years to come, it’s not like my curriculum is a done deal never to be worked on again, but for now, sadly, print-making doesn’t fit. So it was absolutely perfect when one of our world history teachers approached me with the idea of doing prints to compliment her content and add a little visual pizazz to the end of the year. I was happy to help! I believe in cross-curricular work and it’s benefits. You can see some of my cross-curricular work with the science department here.

So as part of the Renaissance and Reformation Unit, 9th graders analyze a series of Protestant woodblock prints criticizing what Protestants perceived were the corrupt practices of the 16th century Catholic Church. The lesson also asks them to consider the impact the printing press and printmaking had in general on the spread and impact of Reformation ideas. So that students gain a better understanding of the process of printmaking, I visited their history class and taught them how to design, carve, and then print “wood cuts,” (we used EZ-Cut synthetic blocks, not wood) protesting social and environmental issues that students cared about. As part of my lesson, I also reviewed the history of printmaking in the Renaissance, ranging from woodblock printing to engraving to etching. Students made three to four prints, one of which they glued into their Interactive History Notebooks. Their Interactive History Notebooks are these wonderful sketchbooks filled with notes, article clippings and art heavy history projects they do in class and for homework through-out the year. They are gorgeous objects, but anyways the block cuts were a success! Please take a look at the photos below.

Four Weeks with Sound

Fall has finally really begun, and the leaves are beginning to change. In Foundations of Studio Art, for the past two weeks, and the next two weeks, we are dedicating our time to creating sound art. We defined sound art as “a term for a diverse set of art practices which utilize sound and listening as the subject matter and material… Among the wide variety of forms that might be grouped within the category of sound art are: kinetic sounding sculpture, automatons, experimental radio, sound installations , guided sound-walks, instrument making, graphic scores, sound poetry, and video art,”  as defined by experimental sound artist Chris Reider. This project is titled Sound collage: A Garage Band and iMovie project. 

This project was designed to be a follow up to their most recent unit on sound waves in Physics, a class all freshman take. It is a built in part of our STEAM initiative to connect art with other Science, Technology, Engineering and Math classes. Art and Design are the key to STEAM, and I will write more on this later. But for now, check out Rhode Island School of Design’s website on this fantastic initiative here: http://www.risd.edu/about/stem_to_steam/ But, our project wasn’t just inspired by the goings on in science class. We also had a little art history, and examined some of the works of John Cage, the famous sound artist and composer. He was very avant garde for his time and I wasn’t exposed to him until half way through collage, but these girls are incredibly intelligent. I saw no reason to not give their soon to be avant garde projects some real context. (Below is one of the videos we watched in class.)

As far as limitations and guidelines I was very specific in how I would grade each project. However, after each of these guidelines were met the students were encouraged to take their sound art in any direction they wanted. My expectations were as follows. Each group of two or three students had to create a 2-5 minute long video with their sound art as the soundtrack. The were expected to use garage band, itunes, and imovie to create their works of art. (These are all programs pre-loaded on their mac laptops) They were expected to focus on the elements texture, and space, and include at least one example of how sound can create the feeling of texture and how sound can create the illusion of space. They were also asked to focus on the principles variety and harmony. Variety so that it had audible interest, and harmony between two separate sounds. They were asked to include a moment of silence or meaningful silence as well as one found sound, and one sound they created themselves: a womanmade noise. Within these boundaries they were free to focus on whatever theme they liked. Although, with Halloween coming up, I’m afraid (literally) that many of these works of art might be scary.

Alternately, the fact that my students are connecting the power of sound with horror movies, just warms my heart. It means they are really paying attention and diving into this project head-on! I can’t wait to see the final results.

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Here are some more of the videos we watched in class

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9vvrSyAPuw (John Cage)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XF1DoVdHM9M (John Cage)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjSabjZ1zdQ (Caught a Ghost)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZRBgIUC4lg (Sound Art Instilation)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMQxu3pe0J8&list=PLB9B4A00FC70FD6E3 (Sound Art Instilations)

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