Serving Art Educators
and Students Since 1994
Submitted by: Laurie
Unit: African Art - Sculpture - African American Art
Lesson Plan: Arm and Face Casts - body art
Grade Level: Middle School
Students will cast their face and/or arm for a temporary sculpture installation. They will paint it with patterns and symbols that reflect their cultural heritage. They will get input from family members for symbols to reflect ancestors.
Decide if you want the installation to be all on one (or two) 4 foot by 8 foot Dow foam insulation boards OR if you want students to do individual works. Faces and arms will be mounted vertically on board. For individual works - cut Dow board into sections about 8 inches wide x 4 feet (20.3 x 2.44 meters) (experiment to see how long they need to be). Individual works could be done on ½" thick boards. A group installation would need to be 1" inch (2.5 cm) thick. Optional: Draw oval where face will be mounted. Cut out oval with scroll saw. This will reveal the INSIDE of the face cast (for students to show what is inside their head with collage). If you do not mount on Dow board, come up with some way to hang these individually. You could secure a piece of corrugated cardboard to back side with a hole cut big enough to slide over a T-pin on your bulletin board.
Objectives: Students will
Show awareness of characteristics of African art
Cooperate with classmates to cast arm and face - demonstrate craftsmanship in plaster addition
Design arm and face to show cultural heritage - reflect on personal identity
Demonstrate understanding of elements and principles of design
Demonstrate craftsmanship in painting
Vaseline Petroleum Jelly
Plastic dishes (cool whip size)
Old t-shirts - plastic trash bags
Plastic Face Forms (optional)
Black and white latex paint (house paint is cheaper than acrylic)
Paint Markers, Puffy Paint (small squeeze bottles) - Permanent Markers
Tacky Glue (or hot Glue Gun)
1" (2.5 cm) Foamboard
Scroll Saw (optional)
plaster addition - pattern/repetition - concentric shapes - exaggeration - distortion - geometric - culture - ritual - symbolism - identity - adornment
See additional info. and student sample work of this lesson here.
Images of arm face casts by Ben Jones
Images of other African American artists showing inspiration from art of Africa (find some books on Contemporary African American art. I have seen some with Ben Jones work shown).
Images of Ndebele painting (this is optional for painting background Dow foam board)
Some tips and photos for mask making
"Revealing the Hopes of Adolescents through the Art of Tattoos" by Michael Gerrish http://whyart.com/tattooarticle.htm
This is a face cast on foam board. Sculpture is painted with Acrylic Paint and sealed with polymer medium.
Present some introductory activities on African Masks (see the Ceramic Mask lesson plan) - show examples of body adornment (in various African cultures - and other cultures). Discuss the concept of culture and how art reflects culture
Show some examples of African American art - discuss inspiration from art of Africa (especially Ben Jones).
Review/demonstrate casting process
Note: Get parent permission for casting the students face and/or arm. some student may have a slight allergy to the plaster. If in doubt, use the plastic face molds for those with highly sensitive skin.
I covered the student with a large trash bag (hole cut for head) -- and also wrapped plastic wrap to cover the hair. Do not cover nostrils. Some have used straws - but I though that would be uncomfortable - I just used tiny strips around the nose. I used petroleum jelly on the face - but some use damp paper towels over the face. You just won't get as much detail.
NOTE: Another similar lesson is located here.
Evaluation: Student reflection and modified rubric