Students cast their face and/or arm for a temporary sculpture installation. They paint it with patterns and symbols that reflect their cultural heritage. They get input from family members for symbols to reflect ancestors. From Lotte: These artists brainstormed their own interests, hopes, dreams and hobbies and searched the Internet for images to use as reference/research. Back in the art room, they cast their arms and a face mold in plaster, then planned the painting for the sculpture, focusing on expression of their identity and the Principle of Design, Unity.
Note: This was an on-going project for Lotte's students. The entire unit took 6 weeks.
Optional installation idea: 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 (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 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
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).
African-American Art - Turning to generally better- documented 20th-century black artists, Patton arguably provides the first clear discussion of the relationship of black modernists to the prevailing mainstream artists and art movements of their time.
African American Art and Artists - An absolute must for any art-lover interested in the subject matter. With this publication the professor emerita of art history provides a comprehensive overview of the work of Afro-American artists from the eighteenth century up to the present day.
Black Face and Arm Unit by Ben Jones, 1971. Not only does he have an interesting composition, he also had added creative patterns and colorful designs to his sculptures.
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.
Students look at and discuss
significance/purpose of African masks - understand meaning -
discuss similarities/characteristics (at least one day
introduction to African art). Look at body adornment in various cultures.
Student look at African American Art and see connections to African art - look for similarities. Also look at influence of African art on Modern Art.
Students fill out a "brainstorm" sheet for listing things about the student's identity
Students research design/art in their own
culture (see Web Quest) - symbols - textiles - imagery. Learn about the beliefs and values of their ancestors. Optional: Learn about the flora and fauna of the homeland - the landscape. Make a mini journal of their findings - including sketches. Make a tracing of oval shape for face and an outline for arm to do some planning - this can be on going through the lesson and can change. Use of images on line in this case falls under "research".
Decide if you will have students do face cast - arm cast - or both. Students will work in pairs to cast face and arm. Wear old T-shirt to do arm. Stretch arm out on table - keep it flat. Only cast the top side of the arm - all the way up to shoulder. Do not wrap around to underside of arm. Use petroleum jelly on arm. Apply at least two layers of plaster gauze. See resources above for face cast.
This is a creative way to use casts of hands and face on foam board. Photo from Body Casting Sydney.
For individual works - glue and mount onto strips of Dow board. Mount face and arm vertically (optional) Seal arm and face around edges with strips of plaster gauze. For a group work, it might be easier to paint the face and arms first, they carefully mount to the 4' x 8' (1.22 x 2.44 meters) boards and touch up. Work on drawings while plaster is drying. Work can be mounted directly on wall instead of Dow board.
When plaster is completely dry, paint with base coat. Keep it simple. Chose black or white for base coat. Work on designs while paint is drying. Plan designs for background board, too. These can be inspired by wall paintings of Ndebele and other wall paintings in South Africa.
Transfer designs to face and arm casts. Black permanent markers can be used on white surface. White paint markers on black (or use gold and/or silver Metallic Markers)
Paint patterns - designs and symbols with acrylic paint. Permanent markers work well on white surface for details. Paint markers can be used on black surface for details. Embellish with squeeze paints (middle school students love using these) - just use for pattern and line.
If you are doing the cut out for the face on the Dow board - students can collage materials on the inside of the face - "What's inside my head?" " What issues are important to me?"
Decide if entire mounting board needs to be covered with gauze. Paper Mache would be much cheaper. Paint mounting board. You could leave these solid white or black for contrast - OR paint with bolder patterns/geometric designs (See Ndebele painting). If mounting on one or more 4' x 8' (1.22 x 2.44 meters) Dow boards, come up with a way to hinge these together so they are displayed free standing so people can walk around them and see the back side. On the back side, there could be an outline of the arm below the cut-out of the face and that could be collaged as well. The cut out of the arm could be a tracing done on poster board and glued to the display board. Arm could be collaged first - then cut out.
Student write a reflection on their work. What do the motifs mean? How do they express culture? What have they learned about their ancestors?
Lesson Plan for the Arts – Clarkstown Central School District Teacher: Lotte Petricone Activity/Unit: Who Am I? Personal Identity in a Sculpture Grade: 8
NOTE: Lotte did not place emphasis on body art. She focused on masks and Ben Jones's work. Her main objective was to develop painting skills.
Rationale for Teaching Lesson:
Students will create an arm & face relief sculpture incorporating designs which express their
personal identity: past, present and future, after looking at
and discussing the art of Ben Jones and body art in other cultures.
1. To look at and discuss the art of Ben Jones and some of his influences in African masks and body art through a PP presentation
2. To understand what a relief sculpture is
3. To use a Web Quest to search the Internet for images that can be used as reference for the sculpture
4. To develop skills in plaster relief sculpture
5. To use the Elements of Art, Form, Shape, Color, Texture and Line; and the Principles of Design, Variety and Pattern to express themselves in a relief sculpture – personal identity: past, present and future.
6. Design a plaster cast sculpture of arm and face to show personal identity: past, present & future.
1. PP presentation of Ben Jones and African influences on his art (1 Class) Brainstorm Sheet for HW
2. Students research design/art in their own culture - symbols - textiles – imagery using WebQuest(2 classes)
3. Casting of Face and Arm. (4-5 classes)
4. Drawing of Design of Arm and Face (4-5 classes)
5. Intro to painting technique & color expression
6. Drawing and Painting of Relief Sculpture (12-15 classes)
7. Mounting string behind sculpture
Students research visual references for their personal identity using the WebQuest
Assessment Method: WebQuest rubric
Segment 3: Casting
Cast face using mask:
Cover mask with tin foil, wrapping around the edges
Use large sheets of plaster: Fold in half, and lay over one side of the face mask, smoothing out. Do the same with the other side. Add any small pieces you need to make it two layers everywhere.
Work in pairs to do arm. Stretch arm out on table - keep it flat. Only cast the top side of the arm - all the way up to shoulder. Do not wrap around to underside of arm. Use tin foil on arm so it can be removed easily. Apply at least two layers of plaster gauze making smooth as possible, using big sheets folded in half. Reinforce where necessary. Use small pieces on fingers.
5. Make a tracing of oval shape for face and an outline for arm to do some planning - this can be on going through the lesson and can change.
Assessment Method: Verbal
Segment 4: Designs for Arm & Face
Work on designs while paint is drying.
Use visual references.
Begin with line drawings – but think about the color.
Use color pencils to indicate the color.
Assessment Method: Verbal
Segment 5: Intro to painting
Discuss acrylic paint and the possibilities within the medium.
Discuss brushes – big and small, flat and round
Demo painting techniques: flat, opaque, dry brush, twirling the brush to retain a point.
Review color mixing: primary, secondary, intermediate.
Discuss the expression of color and how it can communicate to the viewer.
Assessment Method: Verbal
Segment 6: Transfer of Design, Painting
Draw designs to face and arm casts. Black permanent markers can be used on white surface. White paint markers on black (or use gold and/or silver metallic markers)
Paint patterns - designs and symbols with acrylic paint. Permanent markers work well on white surface for details. Paint markers can be used on black surface for details.