Lesson Overview

Students review and refine their sculpture ideas considering whether to depict a figure (or object) in action or involved in an event, whether to construct an environment, or whether to work symbolically (without a figure). They select materials and construction techniques and begin making their sculptures.

Objectives
Preparation
Activities
Part I: Choices about Things
Part II: Choices about Actions and Environments
Part III: Choices about Construction
Part III: Beginning Your Sculpture
Assessment Guides
Resources




Objectives

Students:

1) select figures or objects as symbols in their sculptures.

2) decide whether to depict actions or events in their sculptures.

3) decide whether to create environments as parts of their sculptures.

4) consider multiple viewpoints in the development of their sculptures.

5) select and use construction techniques to reinforce the meaning of their work.

Click here for Assessment Guides that you can use to determine the level of mastery your students have achieved in reaching these objectives.



Preparation

This lesson will take a number of days complete. Decide how many class sessions to devote to which activities within the lesson.

View samples of middle school and high school of student sculptures.

If you choose, prepare a transparency or handout of "Living Things as Symbols"

Preview the online reproductions used to illustrate points in the lesson. Select one or two you think will be most effective for your class. To display the artworks you select arrange computer facilities, connect a computer to a large video monitor, or print out multiple copies of artworks.

Decide whether you want to limit the considerable number of options (figures, no figures, actions, environments, construction materials and techniques, free-standing, wall-mounted, shadow-box, suspended, or relief) proposed in this lesson, by mandating some choices so that students can focus their attention on fewer choices. You may want to consider availability of materials and exhibition space as you decide whether to limit construction materials or format.

Consult the resources list to select materials and supplies to be assembled for student use.



Activities

Part I: Choices about Things


Unit Theme Introduction

Explain that you are asking students to use many sources for ideas for an identity sculpture that they will begin in this lesson. Remind students that in lesson one they looked at how we all play roles and that part of our identity comes from those roles. Ask students to review their brainstorming lists that they generated as they think about ideas for their sculptures.

Ask students to consider multiple aspects of their identity as they develop and refine ideas. You might want to illustrate how one sculpture can have multiple meanings by noting that Luján's figures are, at one time, people, dogs, and cartoons; that Yáñez' sculpture is both a head and a cityscape; and that Hernández' sculpture is both a self portrait and a representation of life and death.

Provide students with a list (on the board, on a transparency or on individual handouts) of living things that might symbolize aspects of their identity. Ask them to indicate qualities that might be attributed to each. Examples might include cat, falcon, butterfly, humming bird, wolf, coyote, dragon, rabbit, turtle, lizard, snake, rhinoceros, deer, moose, goat, oak tree, willow, palm tree, ponderosa pine, cactus, tulip, lily, daisy, rose, corn, dandelion, etc. Explain that many different qualities are sometimes associated with thing. For example a cat, might symbolize trickiness, beauty, night life, stealth, bad luck, many lives, etc. You might also discuss traditional meanings associated with various colors.

You may want to ask students to review symbols (living and non living things) used in the key artworks. For example:



Focus students' attention on their own sculptures by asking:
  • What living things or other objects will you use as symbols in your sculpture?
  • Can you express you identity most effectively with just one figure or object, or with more than one?


Part II: Choices about Actions and Environments


Ask students how sculptures can show action. Display selected artworks, such as those listed below, to assist students in making decisions about whether to depict actions or events. Ask students to compare the action of figures in various sculptures and propose how specific actions contribute to the overall expressive meaning of each sculpture.

  • Luis Jiménez' Southwest Pieta represents the dramatic conclusion to a legendary story of two Aztec lovers. Popo (man) holds the dead body of Ixta (woman) as they are being transformed by the gods into mountains. We can see Ixta's hair becoming a river.
  • Gilbert Luján's Hot Dog Meets La Fufú con su Poochie shows two figures in active poses, at just that moment when the two characters meet.
  • In Felipe B. Archuleta's Baboon the animal seems to stride forward eating a banana and swinging his raised tail.


Ask students whether they can express aspects of their own identities by depicting actions or events.

Explain further that some sculptors construct environments to reinforce the meaning of their sculpture. Ask students to imagine selected sculptures, such as one or two of those listed below, without any constructed environment in order to analyze the effect of the environment on the meaning of each sculpture.



Ask students whether they can express aspects of their own identities by constructing an environment for their sculpture.


Part III: Choices about Construction

Unit Theme Introduction

Ask students to think back to their three-dimensional experimentation in lesson two, in which they worked with paper to construct different kinds of masses and different interrelationships between those masses and the space around them.



Explain that the construction format they choose will affect the number of viewpoints they must consider as they plan the organization of mass and space in their sculptures.

Ask students to begin to think about which of the following sculptural formats is most appropriate for their sculpture:

  • If their sculptures are free standing (with or without a base), masses and spatial relationships should be interesting when seen from any viewpoint.
  • If their sculptures are wall-mounted, masses and spatial relationships should be especially interesting to view from the front.
  • If their sculptures are suspended, masses and spatial relationships should be interesting when seen from any viewpoint. If sculpture are hung on a wall the predominant viewpoint will be from the front.
  • If their sculptures are enclosed in a niche or shadow box, masses and spatial relationships should be interesting to view predominantly from the front. The shadow boxes themselves, if freestanding, should be interesting to view from all around, or if shadow boxes are wall mounted, they should be interesting to view from both sides as well as from the front.


Display selected artworks, such as those listed below, to assist students in making decisions whether to make a freestanding, wall mounted, or suspended sculpture, or a sculpture enclosed in a shadow box:



Other freestanding sculptures stand on some sort of base:

  • Riley Roca's La Virgen de Guadalupe stands on a smooth, circular base.
  • The wide bottom surface of Luis Jiménez' Southwest Pieta stands on a raised pedestal.
  • Clarence and Grace Woolsey's Caparena (Dog and House) stands on a large, flat, rectangular base.
  • The largely planar male and female Chi Wara Headdresses from Africa are balanced on small rectangular bases.
  • Nicholas Amantea's flat, pierced, and painted Weathervane is supported by a rod, which, presumably was attached to the rooftop of building, though the rod could be attached to any base that is heavy enough to support the sculpture.


Explain to students that relief sculptures are attached to a background surface, often a wall. They are predominantly viewed from the front. The following artworks are examples of relief sculptures:



Explain that sculptures can also be suspended from above, or from below (like the Brooklyn or Golden Gate Bridges).

  • The back of Ester Hernández's La Pelona is finished so the sculpture can also be suspended, in which case both its front and back are visible.
  • Jesús Moroles' creates a good deal of tension by suspending a huge granite arrowhead over the polished wooden floor of a gallery.
  • Claes Oldenburg's suspended Giant Three-Way Plug can be viewed from 360 degrees.


Remind students that a niche, shadow box, or diorama is also an option. The following are examples of niches or shadow boxes:



Part III: Beginning Your Sculpture


Explain that students are to use their three dimensional experiments made in Lesson Two and their ideas about what aspects of their own identity they want to express in constructing their own sculptures. If students experimented with construction paper, they can continue working in that medium or work in the more substantial medium of cardboard or even wood. As they develop their sculptures they may integrate other materials or found objects to better express their ideas. If students experimented with plasticine, you may want to continue with water-based clay.

You may want to schedule an in-process critique session in which students work in groups offering each other helpful suggestions about how to improve their sculptures. You may want to provide printouts of the assessment guide or copy the levels of mastery on the board, or an overhead to help students assess their own or others' work.



Assessment:


Use the following Guide to assess students' sculptures in process:

Beginner Students can identify figures or objects, action or events, or environments they are using in their identity sculptures. They can name the construction format they have selected.

Competent Students can identify figures or objects, action or events, or environments and explain specifically how they believe their choices will help them express aspects of their identity in their sculptures. They can point out at least two viewpoints they are focusing on as they develop their sculptures.

Exceptional Students can identify figures or objects, action or events, or environments and explain specifically how they believe their choice will help them express aspects of their identity in their sculptures. They can describe interesting views of the relationships between mass and space in their sculptures as seen from at least three angles.




Resources


Classroom display icons of Images of Me, Construction, Mass and Space, and Themes
Internet-connected computer with display facilities, color printouts of key images, or color transparency printouts.
Corrugated cardboard
Tag board
White glue
Stapler
Thumb tacks and push pins
Hammer and tacks or small nails (used with caution)
Scissors
X-acto-knives (used with caution)
Hot glue gun (used with caution by students, or only by teacher)
Found objects, such as feathers, shells, nuts and bolts, buttons
Miscellaneous art supplies, such as metal foil, yarn, string, burlap, scraps or leather and fabric, dowel rods, and balsa wood
Acrylic or tempera paint
brushes

Optional Resources

"Living Things as Symbols" transparency or handout
Printouts of "Technical Features" information for key artworks selected for discussion
Assessment Guide on handout or transparency
Water-based clay
Clay tools
Clay storage facilities



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