This unit will explore the relationship between art-making and play by engaging students in playful art-making activities. Students will learn how artists use play as a source of inspiration, growth, and discovery in their work.
Target grade level: high school (9-12)
Estimated completion time: 4 weeks
What is the nature of play?
How do humans learn through play?
How and why do artists play?
Goals for Students
Upon completion of this unit students should be able to...
describe how a playful approach aids in art-making
identify aspects of play
create fully realized artwork through playful activity
LESSON ONE: SHADOW PLAY
Beginning with shadow puppets and transitioning into shadow sculpture, students work collaboratively to discover unique visual properties of shadow. To solve the visual problems presented in this lesson students must engage in some serious play! Artists featured in this lesson include Gruppe Pilobolus, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Matisse, and Kumi Yamashita.
LESSON TWO: BLANKET SPACES
One of our earliest experiences with manipulating space is the construction of blanket and pillow forts. Children can use their imaginations to turn a couch, pillows, and blankets into any environment they desire. Caves, tunnels, mountains, spaceships...anything is possible! As artists, we must tap back into that world where, though working with limited media, the possibilities are endless. Artwork featured in this lesson includes the collaborations of Wade Kavanaugh and Steven B. Nguyen and Mario Wagner's "Observed by Clouds" exhibition.
LESSON THREE: MOVING (P)ARTS
One of the most fascinating features about our favorite toys is how they move. Hot Wheels, the Slinky, paddle balls, jacks, bouncy balls all provide opportunities for artists to have fun with motion, so let's tear ourselves away from the static screens of our phones, computers, and televisions and put some three-dimensional movement back in our play and in our artwork! Artists referenced include BluBlu, Duchamp, Hokusai, Boccioni, and others.
“Play: It’s a thing that we put on hold because we get distracted by so many other things. We have to make money. We have to pay the bills. We grow up, and these roles that we play, they’re not real. But after a while they become real, they become us. Play is sort of a reminder of what that was like to be a kid. And we in the end never lose that.”
-Oliver Herring (artist)