SchoolArts Magazine

October 2018

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 23 Students Skylar, Isabella, and Lucia collaborate. M y students always love a chance to mix familiar techniques and unexpected materials. They got that chance when we spent a week creating a cellograffiti fort in our pre-K art stu - dio. Cellograffiti, or cellograff, utilizes c lear, plastic cellophane stretched between poles, trees, or other struc- tures to create a temporary canvas. Cellograffiti can be found all over the world. The tightly wrapped layers of cellophane, pulled snug between two trees, creates a wall where no walls exist. These clear panels provide a tem - porary surface for spray paint creations. Wi th inexpensive materials, graffiti artists are able to create unexpected work in forests, parks, and other public spaces. Evgeny Ches is one artist who works in cellograffiti. See the Web Link at the end of this article for some great images to share with your students. Prior Work with Transparency In my experience, students enjoy the opportunity to draw and paint on clear surfaces. We've previously experimented with plexiglass, over - head transparencies, and takeout c ontainers, and I've known a number of art teachers and parents who have implemented these materials in their projects. Some Instagrammers I follow used plastic wrap to create small walls for kids to paint on, so I wondered how my students would respond to a bigger, immersive transparent experience. Introduction to Students I prepped our space by flipping one of our 48 x 48" (122 x 122 cm) work tables upside down. Using the upright legs as pillars, I wrapped plastic wrap around three sides of the table, creat- ing a fort with short "walls" ready for paint. As my pre-K students entered the studio, they were immediately intrigued by the upturned table. We watched a short time-lapse video of Sue Liedke a graffiti artist painting a lion on a cellograff wall, and then students felt and held small pieces of plastic wrap. They described the texture (smooth, soft) and properties (see-through, stretchy) specific to this material. Trial, Error, and Engineering After our discussion, I opened up our choice-based studio for work time. Five to six students at a time worked together on decorating the fort's walls, using paint and paintbrushes. Through some amount of trial and error, we found that using high-grade plastic wrap and BioColor paint mixed with tempera were the best materials for this particular project. You may want to try other brands of tempera to see if they will adhere to the plastic wrap. W hile some students painted the walls of the fort, others explored differ - ent aspects of transparency and trans- lucency. At our engineering station, s tudents used magnet tiles set up on our overhead projector, sending colorful large-scale shapes onto the ceiling. Oth - ers worked at a collaborative drawing s tation with giant layered vellum paper. Throughout the week, each student had a chance to visit all of the stations. Continuing Collaboration At the cellograff fort, each class built on the previous class's work, the youngest students painting large swathes of color and advanced stu- dents adding finer detail work. Stu- dents worked from both inside and outside our see-through structure, visibly excited to see their collabora- tors through their work. After our first day, I attached dowels to each leg of the table, extending the walls by several feet, and added more cellophane each day. The walls became higher (eventually necessitating the careful use of stools and a step ladder), a doorway emerged, and, with some strategically placed supports, a roof slowly took form. By using stronger pro-grade plastic wrap (usually reserved for furniture packing or restaurant use), the walls were strong enough to cut windows and peepholes through, which further encouraged interaction between inside and outside painters. Evolution In total, we spent five days construct- ing and decorating our fort. The f orm slowly evolved each day until it transformed into an exciting color- ful structure that had multilayered w alls, windows, peepholes, and a strange sloping roof. Students were able to create and take ownership of a physical 3D structure. They explored concepts of transparency, architecture, and col- laboration. Best of all, the fort ended up hosting hours of good times, and students were able to share their space with their peers. This activity can certainly be adapted for other grade levels. Sue Liedke is a teacher at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, Pennsylva- nia. susan.liedke @ smsmusic.org N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Connecting: Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context. W E B L I N K laughingsquid.com/cellograffiti- animals-painted-on-clear-plastic- cellophane Each da he form slowl evolved until it transformed into an exciting colorful structure that had multila ered walls, windows, peepholes, and a strange sloping roof.

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