Middle school artists were challenged to think about contemporary artists who use non-traditional materials today. We started our lesson with a visual thinking routine prompted by Harvard's Project Zero that encourages active thinking and helps to guide their thought processes. Students used the sentence stems, "I think, I See, I Wonder" to prompt their thinking about this sculpture by Marc Quinn, an artist who uses very non-traditional materials to create powerful personal meaning. Students were more prepared to consider the context and meaning of the work when they had already shared ideas about what they were looking at and the questions they had about it.
After we discussed what we thought traditional sculpture materials might be, we viewed some artworks by artists who use unusual materials and thought about how the medium of an artwork affects meaning. Students were surprised to find impressive artworks made of cassette tapes, computer parts, pills, Lego pieces , blood and chewing gum. Students got busy brainstorming different materials with lists: things you find on the moon, things you find in the fridge, things you find in your pants pocket, etc. to start generating ideas for their own portraits. Tomorrow they will research the materials they will use by sketching and culling images from the library. I'm excited to see their ideas!