Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Outdoor Art

During my final internship at Webster Groves in St. Louis Mo, we took the Middle School on 
Andy Goldsworthy
 a  Bicycling/Camping outdoor adventure and had a blast during one afternoon completing artworks inspired by Andy Goldsworthy.  I have used this little project ever since and it has been successful with every age group.  The wonderful thing about this one, is that for preschool it can be all about relating to the seasons, for elementary kids it can be about relating to the environment, observation and awareness of the world around them.  As they get older and move into the upper elementary grades, it can really be about the ART, using color and positive and negative space etc to depict an emotion or abstract idea.  Add a structural/ sculptural requirements and then the added dimension of balancing and engineering their piece to make it three dimensional becomes an additional challenge.

There are other artists in this Earth Art movement.  In fact
Robert Smithson
, Robert Smithson coined the phrase.  However, Andy Goldsworthy's are  my favorite.  The kids seem to really dig his art as well.  With the middle school kids it was wonderful to have them each do a small art piece on their own, and then have them come togther in teams to build three dimensional art structures.  This way, the project became an excersize in planning, teamwork and the physics of balancing and counterbalancing the natural objects they found to use.  It was a long process and really did take the bulk of a day working together, but along the way we uncovered and learned about "minibeasts" in the 
Student Artist
 soil, under rocks and even with classes along the coast in the sea.  We also learned a lot  about each-other, conflict resolution and the artistic process.  I have a very simple, but beautiful spiral pictured here and remember, each object also had to be found.  I am also showing some of the three dimensional types of sculptures one might create below.

I highly reccommend this particular activity, and if you homeschool, I even recommend repeating the activity once per season for an entire year.  Make sure to photograph your artist's work.  Even in the samples of work shown here you can see how season impacts the work created in amazing ways.  I also reccommend repeating the activity every few years and watching how the sophistication in the work changes with your child's.

 You can focus on the media that is used during any season, but seasonality as well as location really does affect color availabilty.   Artworks can be a study in contrasting colors when you have brightly colored fall leaves, or spring's flower petals, or they can be a study in complementary colors on almost any day.  In winter, work might be a monochromatic study, or you might focus on using positive and negative space with the bright white of snow against dark rocks or damp earth.  It is up to you what you want to "assign" or whether you want to just let your kids explore in a much looser way.  Strict guidlines and more lax ones have both worked with my kids. It just depends on what your objectives are in the lesson presented.  Have fun with it!

Watch Andy Goldswrthy's Rivers and Tides
Alice's Goldsworthy Inspired
Spring - Alice

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