Sculpture and Problem Solving
Submitted By: Sandra Eckert, Saucon Valley High School, Hellertown, PA 18055
Lesson Plan: Sculpture and Problem Solving
Grade Level: High School
The initial stage of this project was, in my case, media driven; that is, I happened upon some interesting materials (thick, cardboard rings or forms) and decided to use the medium as an introduction to sculpture. The lesson may be structured to begin with the concept or design. The medium would then be chosen to compliment the idea.
A brief history of sculpture must be presented, with emphasis placed on these concepts (vocabulary list):
Chronological presentation of PowerPoint slides depicting sculptural works should contain the following works, which will illustrate the concepts listed above (all listed works, except the last list of suggested artists, are available in Gardner's Art through the Ages)
Bison Licking Its Back, from La Madeleine, c. 15,000-10,000 B.C.
Venus of Willendorf, c. 15,000-10,000 B.C.
Narmer Palette, c. 3000 B.C.
Khafre, Gizeh, c. 2600
Cycladic Goddess Thinker, c. 2500-2000 B.C.
The Harvester Vase, Hagia Triada, c. 1500 B.C.
Lion Gate, Mycenae, c. 1300 B.C.
Pediment, Temple of Artemis, c. 600-580 B.C.
Three Goddesses, Parthenon, c. 448-432 B.C.
Porch of Maidens, Erectheum, c. 421-405 B.C.
Corinthian Capitol, c. 350 B.C.
Dying Gaul, Pergamum, c. 240 B.C.
The Chimaera of Arezzo, c. 5th to 4th cent. B.C.
Caesar Augustus of Prima Porta, c. 20 B.C.
Portrait of a Lady, c. A.D. 90 (This one is too vague to find. There are thousands of these online)
Capitols from the cloister of St. Pierre, c. 1100 A.D.
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, c. 1163-1250 A.D.
The Virgin in Notre Dame, c. 1300 A.D.
The Gates of Paradise, Lorenzo Ghiberth, c.1425-52
David by Donatello, c. 1430-32
Burghers of Calais, 1886
The Kiss, Auguste Rodin, 1886-98
Standing Youth, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, 1913
Head, Ernst Barlach, 1927
Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, by Umberto Boccioni, 1913
Bird in Space, Constantin Brancusi, c. 1927
Monument to the Third International, Vladimir Tatlin, 1919-20
Horizontal Spines, Alexander Calder, 1942
Bull's Head, Pablo Picasso, 1943
Reclining Figure by Henry Moore, 1939
Cubi XVIII, David Smith, 1964
Robert Smithson: Spiral Jetty, 1970
(Also, works by the artists Pye,*Turnbull, Soto, Biederman, *Chillida and *Judd)
*Excellent choice for modular or industrial work.
After the introductory slide presentation and any conversation that may ensue, students should be instructed to think about what kind of sculpture THEY would like to create. I would encourage them to think of the final product as being a large-scale work. They should be given materials that imitate the form of the actual material they will be using. In this case, paper-towel tubes that were cut into slices of varying widths were excellent for this function, as the final medium was large-scale cardboard tubes. Each student should spend one period constructing a model, giving special attention to the concepts listed earlier. When all models are finished, they should be placed in a central location in the room, and assigned a number. Students will vote on the sculpture they would like to make as a group project. When the model is selected, students should be given the final media, and should begin to formulate a plan. This may require several adaptations to the original idea, as the media may present practical problems that were not an issue with the model's medium. These adaptations should be discussed and arrived at AS A GROUP. The teacher should "troubleshoot", that is, if a potential problem might arise that the group does not recognize, it should be mentioned. Otherwise, students should be encouraged to use the following problem solving skills during the planning and subsequent construction of their sculpture:
Devise a plan.
Rehearse actions and adapt if necessary.
Make necessary changes.
Recognize peoples' strengths and utilize them.
Encourage weaker participants.
Each plan will be different, depending upon the proposal. It is important to encourage students to use their existing skills and learn new ones, either from their peers or, if the need arises, from the teacher. For instance, my students needed to use a jigsaw and a power drill in order to cut into the material; one student, who was normally a minimal achiever in art class, distinguished himself with his ability with power tools. He was able to teach his methods to other classmates, which both empowered him and taught them a new skill (and new respect for this quiet young man). Another student was an excellent organizer. She happened to be visiting a college during the third day of our sculpture lesson. The entire class missed her! Although they adjusted well, I'm sure that she felt validated after they expressed themselves to her! It is interesting to observe the group dynamics that take place in this type of a learning situation. One or two students emerge as leaders. Some are active workers, some are theorists, some are followers. There is a group conscience or pride that evolves; the students take personal ownership in the work, and are excited about it. On the second day, I conducted an informal survey of the students who had thought about their work at home, or prior to class, and were looking forward to class; the results were nearly unanimously positive.
Students will be evaluated in two areas. One area will be participation. The second area will be their work, with consideration given to creativity, craftsmanship, aesthetic decision making, and problem solving. Several in-process critiques will help the students observe their work as a part of a whole, rather than an isolated effort. Students should be informed of the grading criteria prior to the beginning of the studio effort.
NOTE: This lesson was submitted in the early days of IAD when teachers had no scanners or digital cameras to take pictures of student work.