Revisiting the Illustrative Sculpture: The Water Cycle

img_7496 Doing this project with Mound 2nd grade was an incredibly unique experience this past semester. The grade was split up into boys and girls; the girls worked on a modern dance routine with PAA artist Amy Notley, while I worked with the boys to create illustrative sculptures that showcased the water cycle. I have made these sculptures with previous classes, and each time I find that I am able to slightly hone the project to fit each individual class.img_7438

For this specific group, we focused on medium and material exploration. The students used watercolor as their primary medium, adding elements such as tissue paper, salt, and oil pastel to their watercolor illustrations. The first session was spent creating paintings that illustrated different parts of the water cycle on paper, to familiarize themselves with the mediums. They would later use these mediums on small rectangular wooden pieces, that would fit into their sculpture to show the four parts of the water cycle. As a class, we wrote a story to go with our illustrations. What is condensation? What symbols could we use to show this? What is a symbol? These questions were discussed, and different symbols for precipitation, condensation, evaporation, and accumulation were discussed and drawn out as a class.


For me as the instructor, the most exciting part of this particular residency was putting together the wooden pieces that would be our sculptures with the class. The students loved learning about and using all of the hardware such as bolts and screws; their favorite part was using the sandpaper, to help all of their pieces successfully fit together. Some of the pieces were better cut by the laser cutter than others, which made the sandpaper necessary. Students were helping each other sand their rectangles and fit them together, through a trial and error process. This required them to work together, help each other, and sand the pieces just right so that their sculptures worked correctly. This is the STEM process in its essence, working with the elements of art to create interactive, illustrative sculptures. As a result of this work and participation, almost every student had a complete project finished by the end of the residency. Each sculpture illustrated by the students, using the various mediums to create a dynamic and educational viewing experience. The boys were able to communicate their ideas successfully, both individually and as a class.

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