SchoolArts Magazine

NOV 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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Laurie Marcus H ow can you encourage openended thinking and experimentation and short-circuit the "make-a-snowman" mind set that frequently plagues the typical introduction to clay? Claylaborate! The PassAround game is a great opening lesson for a unit on sculpture that helps put the emphasis on the abstract qualities of form and techniques for creating in clay. Clay is malleable, and so is this lesson. It can stretch to fit almost any age group from elementary to adult level. The Basic PassAround Game Give each student a lump of clay I needed to present a lesson that was about the size of an orange. For the not intimidating and allowed each first turn, each student has about five teacher to be successful. minutes to complete a simple abstract I wanted teachers to experience shape. When you announce that the open-ended, divergent thinking so five minutes is up, each student passes they could understand the process his or her shape to the next person. their students engage in during art After another five minutes, students class. I wanted to balance the openswitch again, ended aspect The PassAround game is a always passing of this activity the clay in the with content great opening lesson for a same direction. unit on sculpture that helps information the With each switch, teachers could put the emphasis on the put extra clay incorporate into abstract qualities of form and their work. Most on the table as techniques for creating in clay. importantly, I needed. Model what happens wanted them to when you receive your neighbor's clay. see that art is a creative process and Ask students to look at it from all that there are basic art elements that angles, then add onto it in ways that can be taught by any teacher. build on the basic idea of the piece. The PassAround game fit all the Be sure to tell your class this rule: criteria. The teacher workshop was You can change it, but you can't oblitvery successful and everyone left with erate it. If someone pounds it down, he smiles on their faces. I even got sevor she is out of the game. eral requests for more workshops. It Before the end of the class, lay brought the whole staff together in a the work out on one table and invite creative endeavor. responses. What is similar? What is Laurie Marcus is an art teacher at the different? What techniques were most Brooklyn Arbor School in Brooklyn, New successful? Which pieces use repeated York. laurie243 forms? Which pieces create a monumental sense of scale? Where is texNatioNal StaNdard ture used to unify a sculpture? Your Students intentionally take advantage students will be impressed by the of the qualities and characteristics of variety of different ideas that emerged art media, techniques, and processes from their simple beginnings. to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas. A Workshop for Teachers My principal asked me to host a workWeb liNk shop so that classroom teachers would what their students expeideas-clay rience in the artroom. I realized that Extending the PassAround Game With older students and adults, introduce an element or principle of art as a focal point for each "turn." 1. On the first turn, explain how artists use positive and negative space in two-dimensional art-making and open and closed spaces in sculpture. Encourage students to create some open spaces in their first forms. 2. On the second turn or pass, focus on the concept of form. What forms were on the sculpture they received? How can students use repetition of that form to create unity in their piece? 3. On the third pass, introduce the concept of texture. What different types of texture can students create? How can you unify an artwork using texture? 4. Toward the end of the work time, I like to introduce the concept of scale. I do this by holding up a lump of clay and asking if it is big or little. If they say little, I hold up a tiny piece next to it and ask if it is still little—it will look big next to the smaller piece. If they say big, hold up a much bigger piece and make the clay seem little. Show them how a tiny piece of clay put next to their sculpture makes the whole sculpture look larger. Ask them to try using the element of scale to make their sculpture look monumental. 31

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