SchoolArts Magazine

DEC 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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O ne of the biggest challenges I faced in the classroom was helping my students create their own unique designs and motifs to use in their artworks. Students often had clever and exciting ideas for how to deco- rate their ceramics projects, but they had difficulty making those ideas uniquely theirs, often wanting to copy logos or trace other people's designs. With issues of plagiarism and creativ- ity in mind, I searched for a way to help guide them through the creation and expression of their own ideas and help them successfully apply those ideas to their projects. Mary Colter and Frank Lloyd Wright While collaborating with other art educators on a curriculum project, I discovered my answer in the work of two architects: Mary Colter and Frank Lloyd Wright. In the buildings they designed, these two artists con - sistently chose a motif—or theme— and carried it throughout the space, often basing their motifs on natural objects, such as butterflies and corn - stalks. These two artists did not just take a literal image of a natural item and place it in the building; instead they modified the theme, abstracting or simplifying it before applying it to their work. For example, Mary Colter designed train stations and hotels along the Santa Fe Railroad. In one of her buildings in Arizona, she chose to work with a water motif. She transformed the idea of water into a series of simplified wavy lines. She THEME Hillary Andrelchik then placed the water motif through - out the train station— in the fences, on the walls and doors, and even in the ceiling beams. Frank Lloyd Wright did something similar with his design for the Hol - lyhock House in California. Wright abstracted the hollyhock plant, turning it into a geometric repre - sentation of the flower. This design can be found around the out - side of the structure, built into the fences around the property, and even in the walls of the building. E VARIATIONS ON A Alexa Jimenez. 34 December 2014 SchoolArts High School Studio Lesson

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