Earlier in the semester, the kindergarteners created hanging sculptures — out of paper, pencils, colored markers, colored pencils, staples, and string — self-portraits which depict themselves at three different points in their own lives. More recently, the students returned to sculpture, but this time with a different purpose in mind: they were learning how to construct three-dimensional forms using two-dimensional shapes, and doing it with cardboard shapes and while learning to use a hot-glue gun to assemble these elements.
After looking at images of construction (buildings, houses, bridges) and the different tools people use to build, the students saw a variety of images of abstract sculptures made by artists, identifying the shapes and materials that artists use. Once at their tables, the kindergarteners assembled the various square, rectangle, and triangular cardboard pieces by adhering them with the hot glue (and learning how to take care of themselves if a bit of hot glue gets on the skin!). The students impressively became adept at using these tools and in creating very compelling forms, which — as the children noted — look like all sorts of interesting things. The next step will be to add colors to these sculptures.
At long last, after much planning, discussion, learning from one another, and hard work, the second graders have reached the final stage of their sculpture project: the glazing. Having completed the modeling of the clay to resemble some important person with whom he/she shares a particular cultural celebration, each student has his/her sculpture fired. Subsequently, the students referred back to their original plan (colored drawing) in order to determine which colors of glaze to use to complete their sculptures. Now that all the glazing is complete, the projects go back into the kiln for a second and final firing. The students are very excited to see how their sculptures will turn out!
After much preparation, planning, and hard work — in all their classes — the fourth graders finally completed their study of the Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan. In art class, the culmination of their efforts was the completion of their Ainu-inspired garments: large fabrics displaying abstract, symmetrical designs and patterns, using motifs based on some of those used by the Ainu in their traditional clothing and others created individually by the students themselves. Though some of the designs resemble thorns and swirls (“ayus” and “morew” in Ainu) like in a plant or vine, the students learned that the images are not representational and do not symbolize anything or have a particular message. Rather, they were interested to learn that the placement of the patterns they created (near the openings of their clothes) is intended to keep evil gods or spirits from gaining access to the Ainu’s bodies.
The students worked hard in practicing, planning, and developing their projects, beginning with sketching and drawing in their sketchbooks. Some patterns were created from colored cloth (which they traced, cut, and glued); others were drawn and colored with pastels and/or fabric paint. Some students used rulers in order to achieve perfect symmetry. Once completed, the students displayed their garments to their parents and classmates during their performance and sharing in the auditorium.
A short video clip of one of the Ainu dances, in which their garments were worn:
Having worked very industriously and creatively on their large paper sculptures of living things, the first graders have had some time to again address sculpture and living things, only using a very different medium: paperclay (playdough). They had some previous experience creating animals, birds, fish, and insects in their homeroom class when they constructed their large environment diorama using colored playdough. Now they are able to make slightly larger sculptures using the white paperclay, which they must then paint and also add other materials to (wire, wooden toothpicks, plastic beads) in order to develop the details which help their sculptures seem “realistic”. Students later had the option to create additional paperclay sculptures focused on whatever idea interested them most.
As the Kindergarteners continue on their ‘personal journey’ this year, they encounter new challenges, media, and processes in art class. In art class, as in the homeroom class, we read picture books together which contain illustrations created using collage. Having done considerable drawing and painting and sculpture in earlier projects, they have recently been creating collages. using simple shapes (square, rectangle, triangle) and colors (red, yellow, blue, orange, green, purple) to create portraits with particular expressions (happy, sad, angry, scary, afraid, bored, etc). Subsequently, each student mounted his/her collaged portrait on larger paper and created a patterned, collaged “frame” for their artwork. We will return to collaged portraits later on. Using very different materials than the first time, we will be noting the similarities and differences as we work.
The 3rd grade classes have been brainstorming ideas for their new, upcoming drama performance, pondering the questions:
What do you need to plan a performance?
Visually, what best communicates your story to the audience?
After generating numerous ideas, the students broke into small groups to discuss and plan for the most important prop, costume, and set design ideas, making notes and sketches in their sketchbooks before regrouping to discuss their priorities as a whole class.
Next, having decided on the necessary items to be made, the students worked in groups to move from the planning stage to the construction stage: studying their plans, gathering the required materials, and beginning to build the various props, scenery pieces, and costume accessories.
Additionally, the students have taken time recently to reflect on themselves as learners in art class. After considering the PYP learner profile (CARING, COMMUNICATOR, RISK-TAKER, PRINCIPLED, KNOWLEDGEABLE, THINKER, INQUIRER, REFLECTIVE, OPEN-MINDED, BALANCED), each student selected which two words best describes him/herself in art class and then wrote a sentence or two explaining their reasoning.
The 5th graders have been working to develop a personal kind of Impressionist painting by studying the work of the Impressionists (Monet, Sisley, Morisot, Pissarro), copying one of their paintings, and then altering the image to include a personal item which reflects something about their own interests or passions. After making a basic sketch of the landscape, the students started by painting variations of the dominant color (mixed by hand on each student’s own palette) and then developing the painting using the Impressionist technique, using many tints, and creating dark areas and shadows without using the color black.
Along with painting and discussing the contributions of the Impressionists to the art world, the 5th graders took time to reflect on themselves as well. After considering the PYP learner profile (CARING, COMMUNICATOR, RISK-TAKER, PRINCIPLED, KNOWLEDGEABLE, THINKER, INQUIRER, REFLECTIVE, OPEN-MINDED, BALANCED), each student selected which two words best describes him/herself in art class and then wrote a brief explanation of this self-reflection.
The 1st graders are now winding down their first unit, which was focused on the environment and which had them consider the many living creatures that are affected by the decisions that human beings make about the environment. Each student is in the process of turning his/her large 2-dimensional drawing & painting into a 3-dimensional sculpture, using scrap newspaper and staples. All of these creatures will be displayed in the upstairs hallway outside the 1st grade classrooms in the K-1 building. The students hope you will come visit their jungle!
The 2nd Graders — having completed their clay portraits, inspired by a significant person and cultural celebration in each of their lives — took a mini-field trip up to the high school art department to load their sculptures into the kiln. Walking up eight flights of stairs and carefully cradling their fragile clay constructions, the students arrived at the small metal shed atop the main building, adjacent to the MS & HS art studio. Inside, they each carefully placed his/her sculpture on the shelves inside the kiln. Once all three classes had completed the journey and the task, the kiln was turned on Friday afternoon and the firing process occurred over the weekend. This week, the students will move on to the next step of their project: using colored glazes to continue to bring their clay portraits to life!