SchoolArts Magazine

December 2017

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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A D V O C A C Y Popsicle Stick Mosaic A s a high-school electives teacher at a small private school, I don't have a large budget to work with, so I'm always looking for donated or repur - posed supplies. We recently had a large donation of Popsicle sticks and I decided to use them to create a mosaic. My class chose the Ameri - can flag as our subject because it is a simple geometric pattern and an eas - ily recognizable design. It was also appropriate for the election year in which it was created. Red, White, and Blue I divided my classes, grades 9–12, into three groups, one per color (red, white, and blue). I told them that they could use acrylic paint to cover the sticks with any appropri - ate design/pattern/texture/words in their assigned color. They could also incorporate various shades and hues, including straight black and white, as long as they didn't stray too far from the foundation color. We also used some metallic silver to add variety. Making a Base While the groups began painting Popsicle sticks, I had one student draw the flag template to scale. Our base was an old piece of plywood that I found in our supply closet. I considered using a smaller board, but ultimately, this project worked best on a large scale. Fortunately, the Popsicle sticks were not very heavy once glued down. Assembling the Mosaic The piece really started to come together when we began to glue the sticks to our board. I believe in let - ting my students make their own creative decisions, even if it might slow the overall process down. I only interject when I sense a problem they may not recognize yet, so I let them have freedom in choosing a pattern for the sticks. The Blue team was the first to glue their painted Popsicle sticks. They spent a good portion of a class period exploring arrangement options, but came up with a visu - ally interesting design, similar to a basket weave. We used hot glue to adhere the sticks to the base, and scissors to easily cut any sticks that were too long for their given location. The Red and White teams followed suit and our board was soon covered. The stars presented a bit of a chal - lenge, but we honestly lucked out when I found wooden stars in various sizes. We painted them solid white to contrast with the complexity of the patterned sticks and glued them on Sarah Neumeyer top of the blue sticks. We finished by making sure each student signed his or her name on a Popsicle stick. The Finished Piece My students and I were extremely pleased with the results of this project. The mosaic pulls the viewer in from a distance and provides a focus to explore the variety of intricate designs within the piece. This is a project that can be reinvented over and over again, and it's a great way to advocate for your art program if displayed schoolwide or publicly. I am definitely planning on doing this in the coming years and exploring the possibilities of making it even more three-dimensional. Sarah Neumeyer teaches visual arts elec- tives, grades 7–12, at Regent Preparatory School of Oklahoma in Tulsa, Oklahoma. sneumeyer@ rpsok.org 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 collection.whitney.org/object/1060 I believe in letting m students make their own creative decisions, even if it might slow the overall process down. High-school students at Regent Prepatory School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, collaborated in three teams (red, white, and blue) to create this Popsicle stick mural. 8 DECEMBER 2017 SchoolArts

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