Friday, January 27, 2012

Lesson idea: Junk mail collage portraits

This project idea was not an original one. I saw a version of it first on Princetenol as well as in my Google reader on a popular art blog called Craftzine when they spotlighted artist Sandhi Schimmel Gold and her innovative idea of taking junk mail and turning it into portraits. I think I actually starred the idea in my reader at least two years ago but, as with just about everything that I snag as inspiration, it has been implanted and festering in my brain that this year I finally had to get it out and make it happen.

This project was one of the last ones that I did with my 2D students and I am ridiculously proud of how far they have come as evidenced in the student work you will see below. They demonstrated a real understanding of visual texture and grasp for serious dexterity with regard to their cutting and assembling technique.  They also applied definite knowledge of color theory and each student artist definitely spun their own portrait attempts with very personalized (to them) stylings. Their finished works far exceeded my expectations as well as their own and many of them became more and more serious about their work as they came closer to finishing them and saw how impressive they could be if they only paced themselves and worked carefully.

We used hand-cut (by me) chipboard that I had in our remaining stock from last year and I worked diligently to collect magazines, catalogs, and junk mail from  anyone who would give it to me so that we had a wellspring of paper media to work with. I allowed them the short cut of using graphite transfer paper for the major features of the individuals they picked but they were tasked with making things as 3D as possible with shading and highlighting as well as outlines. Most of them used Xacto-knives to carefully shape and cut their pieces in specific ways and then they used glue sticks to adhere them to their boards. When each piece was finished it was sealed with matte Modge Podge.  A paper clip was hot glued to the back of each piece so it was ready to hang in the student gallery or in the growing personal art galleries in the homes of my talented student artists.

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