SchoolArts Magazine

AUG-SEP 2013

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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High School Studio Lesson Paper Stories Kendra Farrell A Inspired by Mr. Zhang s a high-school art educator We began by looking more closely at the International School at Chinese paper cuts and were forof Beijing in China, I often tunate to have a timely visit from a try to incorporate traditraditional paper cutter, Mr. Zhang, tional methods in a modern context. who lives in the city. Instead of using I have been fascinated by paper cuts scissors or a craft knife, he fashions since arriving in China and have vishis own sharp blades out of bicycle ited paper-cut villages and studios on spokes. my own and with my students. Just one of Mr. Zhang's paper cuts These simple and economical can take up to a month to complete. artworks are used for decorations His work is stunning in detail, comin homes and during holidays, and position, and originality. Cats, floware found all over the country. The ers, trees, and birds are some of his themes of the paper cuts depend favorite themes. largely on the places where they are Inspired by Mr. Zhang's made and the people who make them. designs, students began There's lots of room for creativity and reinterpretation in The essential question I hoped this medium. would inspire my students to In art gallerthink outside the box became, ies in Beijing, "How are we as artists I noticed that inspired by past traditions?" contemporary Chinese artists doing individual were using paper-cut techniques in research in their unique ways, expanding the limits sketchbooks on of tradition. Inspired by both the old Chinese paper cuts, and new forms of this art, I decided writing in greater to create a unit in my foundations detail about its hisclass dedicated to this technique. tory and function. They The essential question I hoped would focused their research inspire my students to think outside on two modern paper the box became, "How are we as artartists: Beatrice Coron ists inspired by past traditions?" 22 August/September 2013 SchoolArts and Joe Boruchow. Students then looked at the Pinterest boards I had created for more inspiration. Beatrice Coron For further inspiration, we saw an excellent Ted Talk by Beatrice Coron. In it, she enters the stage with a paper-cut cape and proceeds to relate her own fascinating history, how she became involved in the craft, and how it became the focus of her visual language. The lesson she focused on was, "In life and in paper cutting, everything is connected. One story leads to another." Japanese Notan In the studio, students practiced their paper cutting techniques by cutting small pieces of paper using straight and curved lines. I then introduced students to Notan, an ancient Japanese design concept that emphasizes a balance of harmony between positive and negative space. Each student was given a 6 x 6" (15 x 15 cm) black square, a small cutting mat, and an X-Acto knife. Sarah.

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