SchoolArts Magazine

MAY-JUN 2007

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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Middle School Studio Lesson Chihuly Magnets Christine Grafe A that decorate this amazing hotel. s an art teacher I am The complexity of the forms, the always amazed at how array of colors, and the play of light some of the best leswithin these works was awe-inspirsons seem to evolve out ing, and now I had the opportunity of another lesson, or how they are to introduce this prolific artist to sometimes born out of happy little my sixth grade students. accidents. Such is the case with this lesson based on Dale Chihuly's fabulous glass artworks. The Process The lesson began with a line We began by cutting the 8½ x 11" composition based on the Op Art (21 x 28 cm) sheets of clear Grafix works of Bridget Riley in which shrink film in fourths, giving each students repeat the element of line student a reasonable-sized piece to with gel pens on construction paper. work with. We then reviewed the As always, some students finished techniques we used on the Op Art their work more quickly than othlesson, concentrating on the repetiers, so I scrambled to come up with tion of the element of line. Students an activity that would engage the were also encouraged to use color students who had completed their creatively to add more visual interwork. est to their piece. Then I rememThey watched in awe as They were then bered the shrink given colored perthe thin, flat plastic began manent markers to art sheets I had to shrivel and twist and draw with on the purchased the year before and shrink into gorgeous little shrink film. decided to let When the toaster works of art. students create oven was ready, Op Art line comstudents began linpositions with permanent markers, ing up with their decorated sheets. then shrink them into decorative They watched in awe as the thin, magnets. As I began working on flat plastic began to shrivel and my examples and melting them in twist and shrink into gorgeous the toaster oven, I was intrigued by little works of art. I encouraged the interesting forms they took as my students to instruct me when the shrink film began to melt. They to remove the piece, letting them reminded me of small art glass decide when the forms were at their pieces with their twisted shapes and most interesting stage. After the lines, and I immediately thought of plastic cooled, I let students hot glass artist Dale Chihuly. glue small magnets to the back of each piece. They were so proud of their works and couldn't wait to Making Connections make more. I became a fan of Chihuly's work What pleased me most about this while visiting the Atlantis Resort project was the excitement level of on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. my students. What started out as a There I had the pleasure of viewsmall activity to keep them engaged ing several of his massive works 44 SchoolArts May/June 2007 turned into a week-long project and a lot of whining when I told them it was time to move on to something else. How often does that happen? With the bonus of adding yet another artist to our repertoire, this is sure to be a lesson that will be repeated year after year! Christine Grafe is an art teacher at Cypress Grove Intermediate School in College Station, Texas. cgrafe@csisd.org nationaL Standard Students integrate visual, spatial, and temporal concepts with content to communicate intended meaning in their artworks. Web LinkS www.holstengalleries.com/artists/ chihuly.html webexhibits.org/colorart/riley.html

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