Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Soft Sculpture at Lee Academy

 Today I sat with the young artists in Ms.Vina's room and after enjoying a song together we talked about sculpture. We imagined holding a sheet of paper between out hands (flat!) and holding a sculpture. Then we looked at and touched some materials: pipecleaners, beads, pom-poms, and dough (to use as bases to hold a stand-up sculpture). Our new teaching assistant, Ms.Dey and I passed out the pipecleaners and let kids get to know them with their hands and discover ways to change them. Then everyone got a ball of dough to put on the table. After about a minute, artists started popping like kernels of popcorn on a warming frying pan - "A SCULPTURE!"..."I did it!" Look at mine! It's standing!" "Mine's wiggly!"
We'd agreed to try to use our own unique ideas that were different from our friends', so everyone had something different going on with their materials! We shared beads - some put them onto the pipecleaners, while some enjoyed pushing them into the dough. As time went on, we watched the sculptures get taken apart by the artists, while they did more experimenting with the stuff. The dough was super soft, and many took the pipecleaners out of it and played with it. When given the option of keeping their work or taking it apart and putting the pieces away, about half the class kept and half took apart. While I regret not getting pictures of the standing sculptures, this process was great just as it was - allowing the kids to do what they needed to do with the materials to learn about them and enjoy them is really important. There were no grown-ups telling anyone "what to make". This way, the artists' creativity and natural learning instincts were in charge of their experience.
We decided pom-poms should be a separate tactile activity, since what everyone wanted to do was touch them (and they are pretty useless for artmaking, without hot-glue).  The class sang a beautiful goodbye song for us as we left!

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