Communicating through Sculpture

Article excerpt

How can you visually illustrate an event in history that communicates emotion? To introduce this problem, I asked students to research the anniversary of 9/11/01 using the Internet, television, newspapers, and magazines. We developed themes from this research, such as hope, patriotism, and unity. Then we brainstormed symbols, words, colors, and images that best depicted the themes.

Students studied the work of George Segal to better understand the cast sculpture method. Segal is famous for casting the human form in white plaster. Students created a mask using this method to be the base of an illustration.

Big Ideas

* Develop learning habits such as organization, persistence, learning from mistakes, and collaboration.

* Appreciate different perspectives.

* Engage in creative solutions.

Guiding Questions

I encouraged students to look at different points of view. I asked questions to prompt students to think differently, such as:

* How would you feel if you had lost a loved one in this event?

* How does fear paralyze people?

* What can you do in your daily life to make a more positive contribution to society?

* How can 9/11 be remembered without focusing on destruction?

* How could we honor those who lost their lives?

* Do you think the media has concentrated on destruction?

These questions helped students to make connections between the reality of the event and their own emotions.

Creating Basic Form

To make the masks, students learned how to apply plaster to each other's faces and heads. To begin the process, cut plaster rolls into 4" (10 cm) triangles, making a good supply of cut plaster pieces.

Students worked in pairs and took turns plastering onto each other's face or head leaving an opening around the nose to breathe. Use plastic wrap on the eyes and hair to prevent plaster from sticking to these areas. If plastering the whole head, cover all hair with plastic wrap. The wrap will stick to petroleum jelly rubbed on the forehead, nose, chin, cheeks, and neck areas. Old paint shirts and aprons protect clothing, but dried plaster will wash out.

Dip the plaster triangles into warm water and place on the face. Smooth with fingers after each application. Continue this procedure, making at least three layers. The plaster needs to set about fifteen to twenty minutes. …