In the everyday object painting project, students in both middle and high school reflect upon objects they would otherwise take for granted (such as paper clips, cork, pencils, etc.) and discover them in new, meaningful – if not surreal – ways. Students are first asked to experience their assigned object through a sensory experience, writing and reflecting on what the object’s texture feels like and what the object makes them think about. Students are challenged to draw one specific aspect or angle of their object and then examine the object once again through personal memories that may or may not be initially related to the object. Students then studied historical and contemporary surrealist work as part of the project and were asked to incorporate their object into a meaningful memory through a painting.
In high school, self-portrait projects are intensive observation of the self on many different levels. Throughout the year in art classes, students draw from direct observation and use mirrors to capture the proportions, values and visual impact of human expression. During self-portrait projects, students use photographs and mirrors to study their faces, but also study objects and environments important to them so that they are able to situate themselves within a setting should they choose to do so.
Wheel Tea Cups
To create a perfect tea set is a challenging one even for veteran ceramicists. Our older ceramics students created a set of teacups and saucers on the wheel using the pulling technique to form the handles. In addition to creating aesthetically pleasing objects, the goal was to create functional dishware. They had to consider the proportions of the handle to the vessel and the ergonomics of the handle and the lip (e.g., the ease of using the handle, and the comfort of drinking from the cup), and they had to consider the weight of the vessel full of liquid. An offshoot of this project had students making tea sets based on various cultures such as Japanese and Moroccan cultures. At the end of the unit, the teacher and her students held a traditional Japanese tea gathering.
Photography: Bottle and Light Project
The bottle and light project teaches students how light affects shape, line, color, and transparency in glass and other translucent objects. By arranging, aiming and manipulating various types of small flashlights and larger studio lights at the sides and behind the bottle, which has been filled with water and food coloring dyes, students learn to see, appreciate, and record how light, and the corresponding shadows, can sculpt the shape of the bottle, and simultaneously define the translucency of the glass and the delicacy of the floating colors within.
A successful project is one in which the student develops a deeper understanding of how to apply and balance various lights according to quantity, quality and direction.