The school year has finally come to an end, and so have the mixed-media artworks my art 1 students created. It has been a whirlwind the past 2 weeks in my art room during periods 2, 6, and 7. We were messy on day 2 making monoprints. We explored composition and the involvement of the audience in an artwork on day 3.
Then for the rest of the 2 weeks, my young artists cut out magazines, painted with tempera and acrylic, drew with colored pencils, graphite, charcoal, conte, chalk pastels, and markers. They used block prints and burned their paper. One student used thread and spray paint. Another added torn newspaper and watercolors. I was asked for yarn and plastic mosaic pieces and bubble wrap. I showed them where the materials were, and I sat back and watched, helped, learned, and was amazed at what my students were doing. THEY WERE BEING CREATIVE!!! They were having a voice. They were exploring. They were communicating–with me, with each other, with an audience.
Students were given a reflection sheet/rubric on which I would grade. Most were questions based on their thought process. I think the most telling questions were “If you to title your artwork, what would it be?” and “Explain what is going on in your artwork”. I enjoyed reading the reflections. I made the grading rather simple–10 point if the student only collaged and did not explore the addition of other media, up to 10 points off for not trying to utilize the composition concepts we discussed, 5 points off for not turning in a rubric, and up to 5 points off for what they say on the rubric. In other words, they will all receive a passing grade as long as they turned it in. I am contemplating having reflection sheets similar to this next year.
“[My favorite art making activity was] my final one because I tried to take everything that I learned this year and put it into it.”
“[My favorite art making activity was] this one because of the freedom and creativity this produced”
“I enjoyed this project the most. It gave me a lot of leeway.”
They all worked hard, well, most worked hard. Of course I had those few kids in every class that just cut out random things and glued them down and called it finished. But I am okay with that. I feel that I am not being realistic if I expect 100% engagement in this type of project. Several students weren’t sure how to proceed after the collage part, but I talked them through and they eventually got it.
As I reflect on this project, I think more time, maybe a period tops, needs to be spent on content. I think that is where some people struggled. We originally talked about surrealism, but as kids progressed through the process, many veered off that and found topics based on the magazine pictures that interested them. I am okay with that. I guess we need to talk more about how to work through things. I am hoping as I move to a more choice-based class and we talk more about artistic behaviors (thanks art teachers of APEX HS) next year, this might not be as much as a struggle for some.
I look forward to doing this project again. I so much enjoyed it this year. In fact, I think it was my favorite of the year (for Art 1 anyway.) Many students asked if they could take them home. I want to say no. I want to hold onto them to hang at the beginning of next year to help brighten up the hallways and to show off this wonderful artwork they made. In fact, that was the choice I made, and they seemed okay with it.