SchoolArts Magazine

OCT 2014

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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artists: Agata Oleksiak and Magda Sayeg. These two artists create truly amazing pieces by covering objects such as statues and automobiles. This inspiration had my eighth graders quickly brainstorming things that they could "yarn bomb" within our school's com- munity. I expected students to come up with things like the railings in the stairway or the school's turtle statue, but they decided to really challenge themselves. They advocated for the ideas they thought were best, but after a majority vote, the prevail - ing idea was to yarn bomb a living person! By choosing this subject, students had to think about how they could create a suit that could be adjustable to fit anyone. Middle-school students range in size drastically, and it took some criti- cal design decisions to make it work. While we were brainstorm- ing, students became particu- larly interested in involving the community outside of the school in a larger way. My cooperat- ing teacher, Cheryl Capezzuti, is the creative director of the First Night Parade, a spectacular New Year's Eve event in Pittsburgh. We agreed that this would be the perfect event for the suit's grand public appearance. Learning to Crochet The process of teaching crochet is simple, but learning the basics can be very frustrating. It takes a fair amount of time to get a feel for the medium, especially holding and controlling the crochet hook and yarn. Everyone will face a point of frustration, and this in itself was the most challenging part of the unit. It's important for students to discuss the challenges they are meet- ing so they can learn how their peers have overcome similar obstacles. Collaboration When students mastered crochet- ing, the yarn bomb project became all about the production of crocheted panels. Two eighty-minute classes were necessary for students to feel confident crocheting. This six-week project included three small eighth- grade classes (ten students per class), students from other grades, as well as parents and guardians who pitched in to create extra panels at a crochet party we hosted after school. We referred to a jumpsuit pattern and stu- dents slip-stitched the panels together with large tapestry needles. Buttons were added to make the suit adjustable on the torso and limbs. Recontextualizing Crochet The fact that students had a choice in what they were creating gave them the motivation to persevere and complete the suit. Through reflective discus- sion, students further explored how the traditional craft of crochet had been recontextualized to create some- thing very artful, contemporary, and meaningful. Our yarn bomb project would not have been possible without the sup- port of my cooperating teacher, Cheryl Capezzuti and my practicum supervi- sor, Marissa Sweeny. Eleanor Voyvodich taught this lesson when she was student-teaching through Penn State's Art Education Undergradu- ate program in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. evoyvodich@ N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Presenting: Interpreting and sharing artistic work. W E B L I N K S Students explored how the traditional craft of crochet had been recontextualized to create something very artful, contemporary, and meaningful. 19

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