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Saturday, February 27, 2016

James Rizzi inspired "Happy Houses"


A few weeks ago the 4th grade art students created 3-dimensional buildings from sheet of card stock. I demonstrated to my classes how you can fold the sheet in a way that produces a cuboid form. I was inspired by the educational blog "Her Dabbles."

We had been studying sculptural forms using paper and I wished to explore the idea of love and happiness in a sculpture lesson. The "Happy House" lesson was an appropriate transition.

We began by studying the work of New York Pop artist James Rizzi. I showed students examples of Rizzi's paintings, prints, and building designs. We talked about his personal style of work and use of motifs. A motif is a decorative design or pattern.  They identified his motifs and drew examples in their sketchbooks.
"A Life of a Block of Buildings",  2010

We then set to constructing our cuboid forms after we examined more deeply Rizzi's "Happy Houses" in Braunschweig, Germany. The students noticed how Rizzi incorporated his motifs in the buildings' exteriors and critiqued his artistic choices. Some students appreciated the style of his work while others found it didn't appeal to their aesthetics. I asked them did his work evoke "happiness"? Was he successful in his artistic aims?



The following class I asked the students to cover their buildings with their choice of Rizzi inspired motifs. I provided a handout with a variety of designs they could use or adapt. They chose from collage paper and markers to design their buildings. Their goal was to design each side in response to viewing his buildings.




As an extension, I tasked a couple of the 4th grade classes in producing a backdrop for a mural based of a James Rizzi's city painting. Since I don't have a lot of space for showcasing 3-D work I decided to install their buildings not entirely in the round, but more as a relief. I asked the students to study the painting and choose to create a building, vehicle, or people to be added to the mural's design.
I installed all of their work in the hall outside the art room. It turned out really fun an colorful. I had to be careful not to attach the buildings too far down so that they are not run into as students walk by in the hallway. So they sit just above head level.


I found that the students enjoyed the process of creating their own building. They were pleased to learn how easy it was create a 3-D form out of a flat sheet of card stock. I also learned how much my students enjoy working 3-dimensionally. Since not all students have a practiced drawing hand yet it is always good to offer lessons for students to simply build. They love it and were naturals. It seems this installation has brought much happiness to the school community. We have been complimented and thanked for bringing booming colors to our halls as our grey Pacific Northwest skies remain so dark during February.

Thanks for stopping by!