Thursday, September 22, 2016

Inspired by Origami

The Museum of Art and Science in Macon, GA currently has a wonderful exhibit of New York artist, Gloria Finklestein's work from the 80's and 90's. The pieces have titles related to Japanese culture, such as "Obon" (the sash one wears around a kimono) and "Hanabi" (which literally translate's into "fire flower" and means "fireworks"). The title of the show was "Origami Interpretations," so to prepare my students for our field trip, I had them make several origami objects. We started very simply with a cat and/or dog and tried to use tactile methods of making it more believable and meaningful for my blind students. They then chose whatever they wanted to make: boats, cootie catchers, balloons, boxes. We also watched Robert Lang's Ted Talk "Flapping Birds and Folding Telescopes" about new origami methods.

The museum was so accommodating, in terms of our visual impairments, offering tactile swatches for students to feel, and a template of the obon shape since the actual canvas could not be touched. Several of Finklestein's pieces were meant to be touched, however, with circles that spin and panels that flip. While we were there we attended a planetarium show, animal show, explored the Discovery House, took a nature walk, and had a picnic before coming back for the last three periods of the day.

The follow up assignment was to create a sculpture or collage in the style of Gloria Finklestein. In other words, to make something inspired by the artwork that was inspired by origami. Students used cardboard triangles, glue sticks, and origami paper, or colored copy paper with their own pattern. Some of the collages had cardboard shapes under the paper to help it become easier "see" with their hands.

When a relationship is formed between a teacher and a museum, it can take education to the next level, and make a learning unit more memorable for the students who experience it.

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