Schapiro Shapes is a sixth-grade lesson I have used several times with great results.
The project is based on the
art of Miriam Schapiro, who created a
number of works of figures in action.
In these works, the figures’ body positions push the edges of the frame as
though they are being constricted or
confined. This use of space creates
tension and adds to the energy of each
Schapiro’s figures are made from
a variety of shapes cut from colored
paper. The shapes are glued and layered on top of one another to create
detailed costumes. Using these basic
concepts of action, space, and layering, my students were able to create
their own figures in this style.
out the use of space and how each
figure’s hands and feet are on the very
edges of the frame and how the figure
takes up the entire space.
We also discussed the body’s position and action. We looked carefully
at Schapiro’s layering of shapes and
how some added to the sense of movement, while others created details
and interest for the figure’s outfit.
To begin, we looked at several examples of Schapiro’s work. Three great
examples are High Stepping Strutter
II, Free Falling, and Anna and David.
In all three of these works, I pointed
Students brainstormed action or
movement ideas for their own figure.
They came up with three different
sketches of a figure in motion, then
chose the idea they thought fit best
with the criteria for the project and