Washington State Visual Art Standards

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Joan Miro inspired Surreal Paper Sculptures

My teaching schedule is unique in that I see some classes twice a week. How lucky for those kids, right!? Double art! Ms. Eagle's third class is one of those lucky ducks..or should I say ducklings? They are usually finished with my planned 3rd grade lessons a week ahead of the other two 3rd grade classes. Double the art class, double the art knowledge I say!
Joan Miro "Harlequin's Carnival", 1924-25
To give these kiddos more art history I introduced them to the Spanish Surrealist painter, Joan Miro. His subject matter is very kid friendly with paintings named "Harlequin Carnival"...what kid could resist digging into it visually. I even remember a copy of that painting being hung in my own elementary school growing up.

I began by providing a brief background about Joan Miro and defined "surrealism" with the kids. Since they have handy-dandy sketchbooks they took notes on this. I defined surrealism as "the unexpected, dreamlike, nonsensical, and unreal". They seemed to really like that, as predicted!
Joan Miro, "Nocturne" 1940
I showed them Miro's "Nocturne", 1940. I asked them to look closely at the painting and explain how the imagery communicates the idea of night...since nocturne refers to night.

After 8+ students walked up and pointed out their observations, I transitioned into a game. Yep, a game. I found this "Roll A Miro" game on the internet where you can roll a die to determine which Miro-esque design you would apply to a surreal Miro-esque character.

They had a blast filling up a large piece of poster board with at least 6 characters...no bigger than their hand and no smaller than their palm

The next art class I asked the to paint their Miro characters with tempera paint. They were also asked to draw roundish bubbles around each character to prepare for the sculpture step.
The third and following class they were shown how to cut and interlock their Miro characters into a paper sculpture.  I posed this as an engineering problem. We talked a lot about how size and weight of their characters needed to be considered when interlocking them.  Some kids handled this with ease, others really struggled. The students who accomplished this task helped students who needed assistance. 
I found that this type of handwork built student character more than the actual paper used in the project.  It required these kids to plan, experiment, problem solve, overcome obstacles, persevere, and accept defeat. There were 3 students who couldn't figure out how to get all of their characters to lock together and stand up. Granted, they only had 35 minutes.


This lesson really made me want to create more sculpture projects this year. My wheels are already turning.

 Thanks for stopping by!