Grade 7/8: Collage Portraits
This project had the ability to go beyond the Art Room, and so it did. After completion of the art project, the teacher assigned research and reporting on each personality. The learning went on!
To start: I chose famous people who have made a positive difference in our world in the last 100 years, and made 2 copies of a head shot of each. I introduced the lesson by showing the photos to the students to see if they recognized any of them. The recognition results? Very few, I’m afraid, but I gave them a brief bio after introducing each one. Here’s the list:
1. Dalai Lama 6. Nelson Mandela
2. Mahatma Ghandi 7. Jane Goodall
3. Pope John Paul II 8. Bono
4. Martin Luther King Jr. 9. Terry Fox
5. Albert Einstein 10. Mother Theresa
I would say that the art is mixed in its results. It helps to blur your eyes as you look at them (reduces the images to darks and lights – a technique I encouraged them to use on occasion as they were working). Using torn scraps of coloured paper I provided, I gave them the task of rendering the portrait as a mosaic. They were to leave the pupils of the eyes untouched, and the background would be completed at the end. The modulations of darks and lights were most important to observe, colour could be unnatural (cf. Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe, Henri Matisse’s Woman With Green Stripe).
Remember, if you click on each image you will see it in its entirety. Good luck!
The background of each portrait was left to the end. In the process of their research, students wrote words on the computer that would describe their famous person. Then they ripped up that page, so the words were still somewhat visible, and applied the pieces only to the unfinished background. The plain white scraps with small black script proved to be a thoughtful and good visual contrast to the rest of the artwork. It was an idea that the teacher (Janice Bohonos) and I came up with during the process.
I would say that this is a project that requires a class with the patience to see it through, and a level of artistic ability to ‘see’ the tonalities. I am still working on my own attempt: a portrait of Lech Walesa, now that my daughter Leah has joined in my efforts to finish. I’ll post it when I am done.
Early Spring 2012 / Parliament Oak School
Thanks to the Incredible Art Department for this one!