Sunday, January 24, 2010

Together We're A Genius

Together we're a genius.  -Six Feet Under

A few days ago, Caroline over at Learning Parade posted about a community art project based on the art of Sean Scully at the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

We do quite a number of group art projects at Woodland Park, most of which involve scads of kids working a single "canvas" over the course of a morning, day, week, or even month. Often we "create" another kind of communal art when I gather up a dozen or so individual works and display them on a bulletin board in a way that, I think, brings out the beauty and/or genius of the artwork. This project caught my fancy because it seemed to have it all.

The idea is simple: prepare small rectangles of cardboard with a few strips of double-sided tape, then break out the yarn and scissors. I precut a bunch of bits of yarn to lengths I thought would be manageable, but the kids were free to snip their own lengths as well.

We've never used doubled-sided tape like this before, and it won't be the last time. As much as I like glue for collage projects, let's face it, it usually is all about the glue, rather than the purposeful arrangement of the items being glued. Even glue stick, for many kids, is a medium unto itself. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but this technique really gets their attention focused on other aspects of the artistic process.

The original idea was to wrap the yarn around the card, making sure it hit the tape enough to hold it together.

Some of the kids carefully imitated my example piece, deftly creating patterns:

Others expanded upon the original idea, rejecting the notion that the world must remain horizontal:

Others dispensed with the wrapping notion altogether, choosing instead to go with a "coiling" technique, in this case going with monochrome:

Others used coiled longer pieces of contrasting colors:

And a few, like Orlando, who doesn't often stop by the art table, approached it as a kind of engineering problem, ultimately resorting to an extra piece of tape across the top to hold it all together:

As the children finished their individual masterpieces, they then took them to larger piece of cardboard, where they again used double-sided tape to add them to the larger, communal piece. I later augmented it with the glue gun, doing my very best to honor the exact placement of each rectangle. This is what we made together:

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Pumpkin Delight (Kimberly) said...

What a great project. I love that every single one is so different.

Scott said...

What a beautiful piece of artwork- with the individual flair of each child. Great.

Kat said...


Michelle said...

I love it. They've done such a great job! I'll have to remembver this trick.

Unknown said...

Oooohh...I like this. It's messy without being gooey. :)

Launa Hall said...

Lovely. I bet they think so, too.

Deborah Stewart said...

This is awesome - I love how the artist in you comes across through the ideas you plan for your students. Lovely piece of art!

Unknown said...

What an amazing piece of art! Love it!

Deborah Stewart said...

Hey Tom,
I had someone on the TPFB site want to know what size your cardboard pieces are. Do you want to go there and answer?

Colleen said...

amazing and honours each childs creativity and individuality

jenny said...

I love it. Can't wait to try it!

Deborah Stewart said...

Tom - I had to give you another award:)

kristin said...


inspired again.

Bran said...

I just LOVE this!

Teacher Tom said...

For some reason Blogger wasn't notifying me of people's comments by email!

The cardboard squares had sides between 2-4 inches.

I give all the credit to the Ulster Museum and Caroline for blogging about it.

One of the best parts was holding it up for the kids to see during circle time. They were all so focused on their own little masterpieces that I think they were surprised at what they'd made together.

@VickiEhlers said...

Imagination, creativity, texture, color, line, design, originality, community, Oh My! Thanks for sharing this wonderful art experience.

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