Are you looking for a “sweet hook” to use when introducing texture to your young students? Then you really must tap into the delicious street mosaics of artist Jim Bachor.
Jim is a mosaic artist based in Chicago. He has been busy filling potholes around town with mosaics in a variety of themes—fashion patterns, cereal packaging, flowers, and frozen treats. You can use his work to address a wide variety of elements: texture, color value, 3-D solids, art historical movements/techniques, and the purpose and place of art in society.
When I did this project with my kindergarten students, we looked at how Jim uses light and dark colors to make his images look 3-D, how the tiles feel different than the cement and road they are placed in, and the fact that these artworks are out in public, actually placed in the street, and not in an art gallery or museum.
I started this lesson by sharing images from his website on my smart board. The kids get such a kick out of his work and subject. It’s suitable any time of the year, but if you do it in the spring, when things start to get warmer, the reactions of the kids is priceless.
After we looked at Jim’s work, we took a little on-campus field trip. With our black color sticks and white paper, we hiked out to the playground and did rubbings of the blacktop! We then went over to one of the mosaics we did with students a few years back, so the kids could actually feel the difference between the tile surfaces and grout.
I found this part of the process to be really impactful. The actual touching of the surfaces made the texture connection so much stronger. How often are kids allowed to touch the artwork somewhere?
We came back in and cut out a large gray Popsicle shape, larger than the actual Popsicle, to simulate the space and color of the grout of a mosaic. Students could choose to do a single or double, and they could add a bite or two out of them if they wanted. Kids picked a color for their treat and added white to a third of the paper, left a third the pure color, and added black to the final third. We did this on a piece of brown for a Popsicle stick, too.
We cut those parts up into little squares and rectangles and practiced sorting and stacking in the process. We then glued those pieces from light to dark onto the gray shape on our rubbings. I encouraged them to leave little spaces between the pieces to simulate the look of a mosaic. When it came time for gluing the pieces in place, I showed the kids how to put lines of glue on the gray paper, so they didn’t have to put glue on each individual piece.
When finished, the kindergarten students had created a delicious looking introduction to texture, all thanks to Jim and the long line of mosaic artists that have come before.
When I shared this project with the artist, Jim Bachor, he was gracious enough to share some stickers and postcards with me so I could reward good citizens in my classes. He even did a trade with one of my art stars! This deserving student got one of his shirts in exchange for a collage she did. To say she was thrilled is an understatement!
This project is geared toward my youngest students, but a lesson on Jim’s work could be adapted for a variety of grade levels, and more choice could be included throughout the process. Kids could research a theme and create a series of paper mosaics; they could compare and contrast Jim’s work with mosaic artists from the past; they could work in groups to create an actual mosaic and install it at their school or in their community; and on an on. Whatever you choose to do with Jim’s work with your students, I think it provides you a relevant and tasty starter … with dessert!
Primary students will …
• be introduced to mosaic as an art form and technique that can be used to bring art to public places.
• identify the elements of art in the environment and in works of art, emphasizing line, color, and shape/form.
• gain an understanding of texture through feeling surfaces around them and by doing rubbings of those textures.
• gain experience with cut-paper collage to create an artwork.
• use geometric shapes and forms in a work of art.
• build skills in various media and approaches to art making through experimentation.
NATIONAL ART STANDARDS
• Creating: Conceiving and developing artistic ideas and work.
• Presenting: Interpreting and sharing artistic work.
• Connecting: Relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context.
• 9″ x 12″ white paper
• 6″ x 9″ gray and assorted colored paper
• Pencils, black and white crayons
• Scissors, glue sticks
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Arts & Activities Contributing Editor, Don Masse, is a K–5 visual arts teacher at Zamorano Fine Arts Academy in San Diego, California.
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