SchoolArts Magazine

MAY 2019

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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M I D D L E S C H O O L O ne of my favorite middle- school lessons involves having students construct cardboard relief sculptures based on the cubist guitars of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. My students love building with their hands. Many who lack confidence in their 2D abilities feel like rock stars as they discover a new skill set in 3D. In the process of making these sculptures, students engage with several concepts and skills: experi- menting with 3D positive/negative space competence in paper/cardboard manipulation; fluency in vocabulary in regard to cubism; the ability to discuss their own and others' work within this context; and the develop- ment of 3D design skills. Preparation Before starting this lesson, I stockpile an assortment of cardboard: used-up masking tape rolls, large flattened corrugated boxes, interesting card- board packing molds, and flattened thin cardboard (such as cereal boxes). I limit the colors to neutral browns and grays, though black accents may be added later. Introduction On the first day, I show students the work of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. I invite discussion about key elements of cubism through a brief art history lesson and slideshow. I also show a YouTube video produced by the Khan Academy on Picasso's Gui - tar. Students then make thumbnail sketches in their sketchbooks, practic - ing ways of extracting shapes from the musical instruments on display in the artroom. I have a guitar, a banjo, and a balalaika, a triangular-shaped instru - ment. The music department loans us some larger string instruments. Prior to starting their sculptures, I ask students to practice at least four different paper joining techniques (tabs, slots, wedges, keyhole slots, paper fasteners, etc.). YouTube has some good video demonstrations. We devote one class period to watching videos and practicing. Building the Sculptures I give each student a flat rectangle of corrugated cardboard, measuring about 11 x 14" (28 x 35.5 cm). They begin by bending a long strip of cardboard in half lengthwise, and attaching one side of the strip to the large rectangle. Attaching another "wall" to the oppo - site side of the rectangle will result in something resembling a shallow box. This will serve as the base from which the instrument is built out. Using Picasso's Guitar as a model and referencing their thumbnail sketches, students build out a structure in the shape of their desired instru - ment. Shaped pieces can be attached at right angles to the "wall" with tabs glued to both surfaces. I point out the changing angles of planes in Picasso's Guitar, and advise students to resist making solid reproductions of guitars. Students should experiment with dif - ferent ways of bending, folding, and crimping to develop form while effec - tively utilizing negative space. As the cardboard instruments near completion, students begin to add smaller details. I provide rolls of one-sided corrugated paper and wood-grain patterned contact paper that can be cut and used as decorative components. There are many other options that can be used to embellish the pieces, such as buttons, adhesive paper, reinforcement circles, and con- struction paper. Reflections It was gratifying to display the work from this lesson, as my students and I were extremely proud of the out- comes. Because the sculptures were lightweight, they were easy to hang on bulletin board display modules with clear pushpins. I have never Lucy Russo Students make thumbnail sketches and practice wa s of extracting shapes from the musical instruments on displa . CARDBOARD GUITARS Students' lightweight cardboard guitar sculptures. 32 MAY 2019 SchoolArts

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