Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Leaf Stencils

Fall has officially started and it is the perfect time to explore the many types of leaves before they're gone. I took my students on a "scavenger hunt" last week, for as many different shapes and sizes of leaves as we could find. While collecting leaves took up most of the class period, the art project itself only took a minute. We simply set a few twigs and leaves on a sheet of paper outside, and spray painted them and the paper around them. When we picked up the leaves, the shape was documented as negative space. The documentation of the leaves will last years after the actual leaves shrivel and turn to dust. I love the ephemeral quality of the finished products and the instant gratification of this project.   
My friend, Matt Forrest helped me teach the concept of stenciling on a deeper level by making silk screen of a few of our spray painted images. My students learned how to pull serigraphs (screen prints) with textile ink. While the ink was wet, my students dusted the images with flocking which gave a fuzzy texture. The second day and added process was worth it to make the images more meaningful for my students who see with their eyes.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Foil Relief Sculptures

This relief sculpture was a great assignment for my tactile students. My students did a couple preliminary sketches in which straight lines went  from one side of a rectangle to another, and then the favorite composition was re-drawn on a piece of cardboard. Students cut notches on the cardboard where the lines met the edge, and then followed their marker lines with yarn from notch to notch.

Aluminum foil is then wrapped around the front of the board and taped to the back. In order to make the yarn lines really stand out, it is important to rub down lightly using the fingers, on either side of the yarn.

Sharpies were used to add color, without decreasing the reflective metallic look. It is always my goal for visually impaired and blind students to be able to paint or color independently, and having the raised lines as boundaries allowed them to do that.

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.