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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and how to make variations on a theme (more than one design that related to the main idea). After discussing these concepts, I asked my beginning ceramic students to do the same: find an object from nature that inspires them and transform it into a motif they could apply to a slab box. Natural Inspiration By sharing these two artists and examples of their work with my students, we were able to talk about how Colter and Wright may have gone about altering the original object to turn it into an original motif that could be used throughout their work. We talked about using contour lines, abstraction, how to choose the most important element(s) of the image, To facilitate their learn- ing, I took students to the computer lab where we researched images from which to work. Students expanded upon the idea of nature and included everything from plants and animals, to planets and human cells. After finding a few images each, students transformed their images into unique designs. Many students used contour lines to simplify their designs, outlin- ing the most important parts of the images. A few even made variations on one theme, such as the student who took the idea of a shark and included a shark silhouette, a shark fin, and a shark bite. Motifs in Clay The other aspect my students paid attention to was how to translate their motif designs into clay. Throughout the semester, we explored a variety of surface design techniques includ- ing piercing, sgraffito, and stamping. The challenge became deciding which methods worked most effectively with their designs. One successful example was from a student who used sgraffito to include images of trees in different seasons on each side of her box, then built a handle that looked like leaves and twigs on the lid. Sharing the ideas and work of Mary Colter and Frank Lloyd Wright allowed students to explore the link between object and idea, between inspiration and design. After a class discussion, students followed the same process as Colter and Wright, transforming an item from nature into a unique motif they applied to their artwork. While I used these artists in a ceramics class, the way in which Colter and Wright created and applied nature-based themes throughout their architecture could be taught in any art classroom where students are expected to create and produce their own unique designs. Hillary Andrelchik is a PhD candidate at Arizona State University. She lives in Mesa, Arizona. handrelc @ asu.edu N A T I O N A L S T A N D A R D Connecting: Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context. W E B L I N K www.npr.org/programs/specials/ architecture/0011.colter.html I asked students to find an object from nature that inspires them and transform it into a motif they could apply to a slab box. Billy DeWitt Jr. schoolartsonline.com 35

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