Category Archives: Art

The Getty Museum Twitter Challenge

I am getting a huge kick out of seeing responses to the Getty Museum Twitter Challenge to recreate a work of art with things you have at home.  You can see their invitation to participate in the tweet embedded below.

The creative responses have been mind-blowing, and another example of how adding a few constraints can often motivate people to be more innovative than leaving things completely open-ended. I’ve added a couple below.  Here are some of my favorites (and you can see more by clicking on the above Tweet):

deskwithdog
images from @GettyMuseum
holdingdog
images from @GettyMuseum
diana
images from @GettyMuseum
vet
images from @GettyMuseum
surrealism
images from @GettyMuseum

You can learn so much about our culture and the past by comparing these pictures.  They are definitely a collection that should become part of the historical archives, allowing future generations to see our ingenuity and sense of humor during this time of crisis.

If you want to talk about some of these masterpieces with your students, the wonderful educators at the Smithsonian just put out an excellent video called, EZ PZ: How to Engage Your Students with Project Zero Thinking Routines.

Project Zero Thinking Routines

UPDATE 3/30/2020:  Here is a link to a video where Smithsonian educators demonstrate use of the Thinking Routines with a piece of artwork.

You would have to drill down a bit into these resources that I posted about from the Smithsonian for “A Woman’s Place” to find this excellent compilation of Thinking Routines from Harvard’s Project Zero, so I thought I would give this page of free downloads its very own post.  Although the routines are specifically aimed toward discussing works of art, you will quickly see that these questions are adaptable to many different situations, and that they will elicit deep thought about any topic.  One of my favorite Visible Thinking Routines is 3-2-1 Bridge (here is a post I did on that, which includes a free template).

I also like the: Artful, Global, and Agency by Design Thinking Routines that are included on this page.  For example, I’ve added one of the Global cards below.  Imagine applying these questions to the current pandemic, and what answers you might receive from your students!  Some might find literal beauty in the microscopic image of the virus, while others may see the beauty of human nature being revealed as people jump in to help their communities.

truth and beauty

If you are preparing curriculum for distance learning, I hope that you will consider adding some of these to get a more detailed understanding of the thoughts your students are having while they learn.

A Woman’s Place

Anne Showalter, who works at the Smithsonian American Art Museum has created this resource for educators, “A Woman’s Place is in the Curriculum: Teaching Women’s History Through American Art and Portraiture,” a wonderful compilation to use for Women’s History Month from the Smithsonian Learning Lab.  There are three Learning Lab Collections that are free to use: “Persisting and Resisting: Exploring Women as Activists,” “Who Tells Your Story: Exploring Women and Identity,” and “Remaking the Rules: Exploring Women Who Broke Barriers.”

(You can find out more about Smithsonian’s Learning Lab here.)

Each collection contains images and artwork for the theme, as well as a webinar for each topic.  The webinars were done live late last year, but you can watch the archived videos to get ideas for discussion and background information about the assets provided in the collection.  “Exploring Women Who Broke Barriers” has a Powerpoint Presentation from the Webinar here.  “Persisting and Resisting’s” Powerpoint can be found here. I might have missed it, but I do not see one for “Who Tells Your Story.”

I like how the presentations give ideas for using Visible Thinking Routines from Project Zero in to develop deep discussions about the artwork.  (You can see some other posts I’ve done about using a couple of these routines here and here.)

Since it’s Women’s History Month in the United States, you may want to consider adding at least portions of these to your curriculum for March.  But I think you will see that there are enough resources to make for enriched learning throughout the year!

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Smithsonian American Art Museum, Smithsonian Institution. “Smithsonian Learning Lab Resource: Sun Mad.” Smithsonian Learning Lab, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, 2 Nov. 2015. learninglab.si.edu/q/r/166274. Accessed 5 Mar. 2020.

 

3d Printed Lithophanes

I asked a couple of people on Twitter if I could share their projects today.  I have been fascinated watching them post pictures of their 3d printed lithophanes.  In the past, lithophanes were traditionally etched in thin, translucent porcelain that revealed the artwork when backlit.  3d printing technology, however, allows for lithophanes to be created using filament with very similar results.

Julia Dweck (@GiftedTawk) has been working on 3d printing lithophanes with her students to showcase their individuality.  As you can see in the first picture below, the lithophanes are not truly visible without light.  The second photo displays her amazing student photos once the lamp has been turned on.  Follow Julia if you aren’t already – she is always doing incredibly creative projects!

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3d Printed Lithophanes courtesy of @GiftedTawk
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3d Printed Lithophanes courtesy of @GiftedTawk

Rob Morrill (@morill_rob) has also been working with lithophanes.  His designs are in honor of Black History Month.  You can see his Rosa Parks example below.  I also suggest you take a look at his Nina Simone and Shirley Chisholm lithophanes available on Thingiverse.

Rob has provided step-by-step instructions for creating lithophanes with Tinkercad here.

Most of the lithophane DYI articles, including Rob’s,  recommend using this free online lithophane generator to make your photos into an .stl file.  Once you have this file, you can use any slicing program, such as Cura, to prepare the file for 3d printing.  This Sparkfun article has basic instructions.  For more complex “tweaks” that you may want to make in your preferred slicing program, such as setting the layer height and infill, this Instructable may help you out.  Most of the sources I looked at recommend using white PLA filament.  Other colors may work, but the translucency will not be as consistent.

Let me know if you’ve done a lithophane project!  I’d love to see the many applications of these unique form of art.

 

Turtlestitch

One of the many things I didn’t know anything about when I first started teaching at Advanced Learning Academy was working with textiles.  My skills were limited to hand-sewing buttons.  Even though my in-laws had given me a sewing machine a decade ago, I still didn’t know how to thread it or why in the world I needed a bobbin.

I had seen the Turtlestitch Kickstarter page, and was intrigued by the idea of using coding to design for textiles, specifically for embroidery machines.  My colleague and I decided to order a combo sewing/embroidery machine (Brother SE600) for Zorro Astuto, and it arrived about a month before I retired.  I took it home for the Thanksgiving Break to try it out and, with the help of a lot of YouTube videos, figured out how to use the machine.  Although I was by no means an expert, I begged my family to buy me one for Christmas.  I knew I would suffer from fabrication withdrawal once I was no longer teaching in Zorro Astuto, and the Brother SE600 seemed far more practical than adding a 3d printer or laser cutter to my personal collection – though I’m certainly not ruling those out for the future 😉

I’ve made a lot of mistakes with this machine, which makes sense since I knew zero about it when I started.  For example, I didn’t know that you need to put a stabilizer behind your fabric (sometimes even on top of it, depending on the fabric), and that there are many, many different types of stabilizers.  The type of fabric, or other medium, and the types of stitches will determine your stabilizer and needle types.  This blog post was really helpful.  I have also learned quite a bit about how to service my machine as pieces of thread and fabric have gotten caught inside when I didn’t stabilize correctly or a needle broke.

You can download embroidery designs, but most of them will cost you money.  Finding just the right software for creating your own designs can be overwhelming.  That’s why Turtlestitch is such a genius idea.  Using block coding, you can create your own design and export it to a USB – for free.

To start, I decided to choose from one of the many free designs already available on the Turtlestitch site.  The project is called, “Twisty.”  Because I wanted my design to be in different colors, I decided to remix the original by randomizing the RGB colors.  Each time I run the code, the colors will come out different.  However, once I like the colors, I can export the file as a .dst, and those colors will be the set used for the embroidery file. The machine lists each corresponding Brother Thread color number as it is needed, and I was fortunate in this case, as almost every single thread color was part of my original package of threads.turtlestitchtwisty

My machine will stop for each color change, which turned out to be a bit demanding on this project, but I’m thankful for the automatic needle threader!

turtlestitchtwisty2
Turtlestitch “Twisty” remixed, stitched on felt, using tear-away stabilizer on bottom

I love using coding with math, and there are lots of possibilities here.  There are a few fractals projects already on the site, as well as tessellations.  If you follow the @turtlestitch Twitter account, you will see examples of student projects, including jewelry (my next personal challenge).

ALA Art Drop Day

I got to be a small part of an interesting project on my last day at Advanced Learning Academy.  One of my colleagues, Dan Mallette, teaches a class for the high school students called, “Global Changemakers.”  Inspired by the World Art Drop Day in which the Southwest School of Art participates annually,  Dan tasked his students to each create two works of art based on the Sustainable Development Goals each student had chosen to study.  About a week before Art Drop Day, they started advertising #alaartdropday on our web announcements, and encouraged the school community to follow the Instagram account for our makerspace/studio (@studiozorro).  On the day of the Art Drop, I was able to accompany a couple of the groups of students as they took their pieces of art to different spots around campus to “hide” them.  Once a student found the perfect spot for his/her art, we took a picture of it in its location, trying to include a couple of clues to its surroundings, and posted the picture of the artwork on Instagram with the #alaartdropday tag.  Any student or teacher who was interested in one of the masterpieces could try to find it based on the clues in the Instagram picture, and claim it as their own.

The students had a great time hiding their artwork (one piece ended up on the railing inside the elevator). It was the perfect activity for the last day before Winter Break – allowing the students to get out of the classrooms and to come up with devious ways to camouflage their pieces while leaving them in plain sight.  A couple of staff members I ran into were excited about trying to find particular artworks that spoke to them that they hoped to display in their classrooms.

Finding a way to give students a larger audience than just the teacher and their classmates can be challenging.  This was a unique way to achieve that goal, and I hope that it will become an annual tradition at the school.

artdrop

artdrop2

Biodesign

In the past, I have taught students about biomimicry/biomimetics, in which designers use inspiration from nature to create new products.  (The Youth Design Challenge is a great place to find resources for this.)  Biodesign takes things one step further by actually incorporating nature, often still living, into innovative artifacts that can be purely for decoration or serve specific purposes.

I first became aware of biodesign when I ran across a website for The Nest Makespace.  The unusual images on the home page intrigued me.  (I admit that I thought the “bioyarn” designs were actually made out of worms, but it turns out that it’s probably more like this material.)

The Nest Makespace offers some fascinating project ideas here.  I am hoping that more lesson plans will be linked soon.  In the meantime, you can find more suggestions on the Resource page.

For a “Peek at the Possibilities of Biodesign,” click on this link, or watch the embedded video below.

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Picture from Fernan Federici on Flickr