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POP-UP ART HISTORY
by Debi West
Who doesn’t love a good ole fashioned pop-up book? I know I do and I have often used these to teach my students about relief sculptures. When I started working at the high school, I needed something new to keep my kids engaged with our mandatory art history units.
I remember trying to come up with creative ways to help my students retain some of the art history found on their county assessments, but I was feeling rather stuck. I started looking through my art history books and closely studying my county standards and it just clicked! I went back to my pop-up book lessons from my elementary teaching years and —BAM—“Pop-Up Art History” was born!
THE LESSON BEGAN with students looking through our art history books and the Internet to seek out a few images from our past that they had a positive reaction too. I also had a list of art history works that they were required to know. From pre-historic art and Greek Classical, to more modern works, students spent several days searching for the “right” image to use. As they did their research, they also took notes to add to their final exhibits.
These images were then drawn out via a grid, or by direct observation; I always left it up to them. I reiterated how important it was that they measured and looked at the image they were drawing because the more exact, the better. This portion of the lesson was all about the technical and wasn’t very creative based.
Once the grid drawing was complete, students had the opportunity to get creative with where their reliefs could go. They chose the part of the image that they wanted to POP off of the page (as a relief) and drew that by tracing the first one. Once this was done, they cut this out (teaching your kids to cut and glue neatly is an important part of this lesson).
ONCE THIS STEP WAS COMPLETE students then drew that piece again and cut it out so that, in essence, the final piece will pop off the page three times. Students colored these in using art stix and colored pencils. This is when we began to discuss the technical side of the lesson as students were once again looking closely at the art history reference they have selected and they color what they see.
Finally, when all of the parts had been colored in well, students adhered cardboard squares to the back of the images and voilà, they created a cool pop-up effect.
This lesson is always fun, successful and, most importantly, it keeps our kids engaged as it teaches them about art history and how to create a paper relief. Who knew art history could be so POP-ular?
Next up … Clay Vessels!
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Arts & Activities Contributing Editor Debi West recently retired from her job as department chair and art educator at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Georgia. She owns and operates WESTpectations Educational Consulting and she and her husband now reside in Hilton Head, South Carolina.