SchoolArts Magazine

APR 2018

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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Page 7 of 62

Nancy at the Earthship Biotecture construction site in Taos, New Mexico. SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 3 Editor's Letter A t first glance, it may be difficult to say if the build- ing pictured here is being constructed or taken down. It is an ongoing construction project, part of an Earthship Biotecture community north and west of Taos, New Mexico. An Earthship is a type of off-the-grid house built partially below ground with natural and recycled materials to produce its own water, energy, and food. The main construction materials are adobe, old tires, and empty cans and glass bottles. There is a community here of these houses, a visitor center, and a school to learn how to make Earthships. You can also spend the night in one. We visit here quite often to watch the construction of this and other new buildings on the site. I find the playfully cur - vaceous lines and forms of these handmade structures very appealing. They seem to grow right out of the ground and remind me of Antoni Gaudí's similar architectural forms in Barcelona, such as the Sagrada Família and Güell Park. Because such designs and materials are so appealing, they offer an engaging introduction to the art of construction for your students. You could have your students build with similar recycled materials in either collaborative or individ - ual projects. In such projects, students can experiment with structure, engineering, and construction as they work. Deconstruction, the flip side of construction, is also worthy of exploration. In broad terms, deconstruction is the selective taking apart of an object or idea to better understand its meaning or how it works. Art criticism is basically a form of deconstruction that can lead to a better understanding of an artwork. See Pam Stephens's article about this on page 40. In architecture, deconstruction is the selective taking apart and reusing of building components, described by Wiki - pedia as a kind of "construction in reverse." Deconstruction is necessary before materials can be reused in Earthships. Whether you focus on construction or deconstruction, it is invaluable to include three-dimensional concepts and projects in your curriculum as much as possible. Often - times students who may not be confident in their drawing skills may excel at working in three dimensions. Expensive materials are not required for construction. Paper sculpture can be made from construction paper, file folders, tag board, cardboard, mat board, Styrofoam, tooth - picks, and paper straws. Clay and other modeling materi- als or found objects also offer avenues for your students to explore. If you use centers, you could set up a "construction zone," and have all these types of materials available there. Construction/deconstruction projects work well for col- laborative projects, where students can help and learn from each other, whether they are building a structure or ana- lyzing a work of art. As comedian Lily Tomlin has said, "The road to suc- cess is always under construction." Help your students follow that road. Visit Follow me on

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