Design a Sculpting Material: This Exercise Is a Powerful Way to Integrate the Curricula and Show the Links between Art and Technology

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Artists have used a variety of materials over the years for sculpting. They have been quick to use unusual pieces of technology to make a vibrant and unique statement, just as painters have created and used a wide variety of colors and derived pigments for their canvases. In this design challenge, your students will have a chance to design a sculpting material. It can be made from completely new materials or by using manufactured materials in a new way.

Looking Back and Learning

Immerse the class in the world of sculpting to learn how artists have used commonly available materials to make poignant statements about our world and the times. Stone, wood, plaster, metal, glass, ceramics, and wax were early sculpting materials, lasting the test of time and seen in many museums today. As technology advanced, so did the appetite of sculptors for new materials like steel, plastics, composites, and even high-tech components like electronic circuits and various pieces of manufactured parts.

Identify some of the great works of art and try to learn how these objects were made as well as what the artists had in mind while sculpting them. Do commonalities exist among artists and their techniques?


Dig deep into what sculptors look for in their world and how they have used technology and materials to influence their art form. If possible, visit an art museum to see a variety of art pieces on display, looking for unique uses of technology and materials. Have a museum or art curator visit your class to discuss the types of materials artists have used and are now thinking about for their next works. If possible, contact a sculptor and perhaps schedule a visit with your class to hear firsthand what the artist sees and feels in working with different materials. What attracts them to materials?


This exercise is a powerful way to integrate the curricula and show the links between art and technology. Can you get your art teacher involved with this activity as well? Maybe your students can try their hand at some sculpture using easily available materials. Clay, balsa wood, and plaster quickly come to mind, as does the use of a pottery wheel, if available. It is important for the students to try their hands at sculpting and working the materials to help put them in touch with what an artist might be experiencing.

While here, don't forget to challenge the class with broad and related questions such as: * What is art?

* What artistic pioneers first used modern materials?

* Who are the leading high-tech materials sculptors today?

* How does one study to be a sculptor?

* How do sculptors choose themes for their works?

* How are art, technology, science, and creativity related?

* Are there various eras in sculpture during which specific sculpting materials reigned? …