SchoolArts Magazine

December 2016

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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34 DECEMBER 2016 SchoolArts H I G H S C H O O L I n our Art Foundations course, I offer students at least one sculpture challenge during the semester. With no clay wheels in our depart - ment, we embrace handbuilding. Therefore, for the past few years, our annual sculpture chal - lenge has taken the form of ceramic portrait busts in a challenge I call "You're an Idiom," in which students must interpret an idiom such as "a little bird told me" through their sculptural busts. Last year, my mentor Nicole Brisco sug- gested contemporary interpretations of Egyptian canopic jars, the vessels in which the stomach, intestines, lungs, and liver of embalmed bod- ies were buried in keeping with the belief that they would be needed in the afterlife. Nicole's students replaced the traditional heads of the baboon-, jackal-, falcon-, and human-headed gods with self-portraits. Spirit Animals Not wanting to mimic her concept, I combined the idea of the jar with a favorite concept of mine and my students' for the lids: spirit animals. The notion of spirit animals descends to us through a variety of shamanistic traditions that subscribe to the belief that we appropriate the characteristics of certain animals during different phases of our lives through which they guide and protect us. This challenge accomplishes a number of goals in terms of both technique and concept because, not only does it allow students to choose and interpret the appearance of their spirit animal— which they relish—but it affords them experience with forming pinch pots (the bottom and lid), coiling (the body of the vessel), and handbuild - ing (the lid), in addition to cold finishing with underpainting (raw umber), dry brushing (white), building up color (pastels and colored pencils), and embellishing (gel pen designs). Betsy DiJulio JARS SPIRIT ANIMAL

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