Sunday, November 22, 2015

From Trash To Chihuly: Building 21st Century Skills Through Art In The Classroom

It all started with a field trip to the local trash dump and recycling center.  The kids saw so much trash and recyclables in the dumping area. The workers were letting us know that we needed to help by reducing, reusing and recycling. They let us know that we were the solution the our worlds trash problem! When we got back to school, we discussed how we could help here in our classroom. We recycle paper and decided we needed to be diligent in continuing that.  They became very intrigued by the thought of reusing or repurposing "clean" trash such as boxes and bottles, etc.  I asked them what they thought they could make out of trash. They thought art and instruments would be fun! That didn't surprise me as I have a large group that is very much into abstract art. 

We started out by using paper tubes to create individual art pieces. They created art by dipping the tubes in white paint and then coloring them in with pastels. 

I layed out a provocation of paper tubes, glue and scissors to see what art they could create collaboratively out of this trash! They built up fine motor muscles by cutting the thick cardboard! 

After they filled it up we spray painted it together. 

Of coarse, they asked if they could add glitter since glitter makes everything more beautiful!

They truly did create beauty out of trash! What a beautiful piece of collaborative art! 

At one point, one of my little friends asked about an art piece created by a past class of mine that is hanging in our room. 

He asked if that was made out of trash. I told him it was made out of plastic cups and was inspired by an artist named Chihuly. I asked if he wanted to see a picture of the inspiration. Here it is. 

Of course, other kids started coming to look at it so I put it on the promethium board. They saw other pictures of his art on google images and soon one yelled out, "We could make those! Could we make those out of trash?" Absolutely we can...and our Chihuly Inquiry was born. That very first experience already started inspiring some of my little friends to create! 

First we had to learn about Chihuly and how he creates his art. 

To investigate and dig deeper, we watched some videos to learn more about Chihuly. They were so fascinated they would not let me fast forward through any parts! 

They learned that he melts sand into a thick liquid and picks it up with a metal pipe, blows into it and spins it to create beautiful glass sculptures. Some are individuals such these macchias,

and some he connects together to create larger sculptures like these. 

We collected trash to create with since that was our initial focus.  We needed water bottles since we couldn't safely blow glass (though they wanted to try) and something for the macchias. I had some filters that had water color spilled on part of them so they had a pink blob on the side. We had read a story earlier called "Beautiful Oops." We felt that instead of throwing them away we could use the blob as a "beautiful oops" and work around it to create something beautiful such as Chihuly inspired macchias! 
The kids were able to be creative as they created designs on the filters with water based crayola markers. 

We layed them over a cup and sprayed them with starch. 

These macchias turned out so beautiful! I don't know if I will ever be able to send them home! 

The kids were also painting water bottles with acrylic paint to create our large scale collaborative art project. We needed a lot of bottles so this took a lot of time and patience on all of our parts! 

I cut the spirals in the bottles for them and they wired the bottles to embroidery hoops. We used a very strong floral wire so they had a really good workout to help develop their fine motor muscles. 

After attaching the hoops together it started to grow...

and grow...

and grow! Here is our finished Chihuly inspired chandelier. This was inspired by his Fireworks Chandelier hanging at the Indianappolis Children's Museum. I recommend going to see it! It is his largest chandelier sculpture with over 3000 glass pieces. They also have a glass Macchia ceiling the kids (and you) would love to see! 

Some kids brought in some bottles that were too stiff to cut so I showed them this sculpture and asked it they wanted to create something similar. The balls are made out of crumpled up old scholastic order forms wrapped in masking tape to keep with our "Creating Beauty Out Of Trash" theme. The bowl was getting ready to go to Good Will but we thought it would work well for this sculpture. Can you see the similarities? 

Mrs. Garrabrant had a beautiful book all about Chihuly and his art. After reading it, we found out that after he injured his eye, he started painting! This was a whole new inspiration for them! His art was very abstract and process oriented. He threw and squirted paint, he experienced all mediums such as pencil, charcoal, oil pastel and then fell in love with liquid acrylics. The kids were fascinated and it made me realize they really have a love for abstract art! Here are some of Chihulies paintings.

We couldn't throw paint or squirt it in our room like Chihuly so I gave them dish brushes and crumpled paper so that they had new ways to enjoy the process of creating and make some textured background for their paintings. 

I have some photos of their finished paintings hanging in our hallway below. 

Many of the kids also started creating coffee table books of Chihuly's Art after looking at the one Mrs. Garrabrant let us borrow. Here is an example of one book showing the cover and pictures on each page. 

The kids also wrote about Chiluly. The one below is showing Chihuly holding the blowing pipe with melted glass at the end of it. It looks like he is making a Macchia!

I loved the pictures of Chihuly they drew with this writing assignment. 

They even brought Chihuly into their play!

The kids used the computer to pick their favorite piece of art created by Chihuly. They wrote their opinion on why they felt the art piece they chose was the most beautiful piece he created. They were not allowed to just say "because it's pretty." They had to think deeper and use their critical thinking skills and write WHY they thought it was pretty. 

We displayed documentation of our inquiry, showing our journey and the projects we created. 

This was such a fun inquiry! I had never done such an in depth artist study with Kindergartners before! I loved listening to the vocabulary they developed and used as they discussed Chihuly and his art with each other! I loved listening as they grabbed kids from other classes as they walked by and showed them our cChihuly gallery and told them about it. I loved when one grabbed a teacher and showed her their opinion pieces and then asked her, "So what is your favorite Chihuly piece?" It's hard to believe all of this beauty, vocabulary, and creativity all began with a trip to the dump...