One of my favorite activities of each school year is a collaborative collage that I commonly refer to as "The Group Draw". I can't take credit for the idea - my first experience with a Group Draw was in graduate school during a summer studio program at Boston University. The activity uses simple materials but teaches students big lessons.
Large white paper
black tempera paint
black masking tape
(Stuff I had even though I do not have my new supplies)
Each student paints a sheet of white paper using patterns of their own choosing.
Each painting is torn into 3 pieces.
A large sheet of white paper (from a roll) is placed on the floor and the torn pieces of each students' painting are placed around the outside edge.
Torn pieces are glued in place.
Students discuss the result and decide whether to add more paint or to cut and reposition the pieces of the collage.
As a collaborative group, the students work together to decide to add paint, cut and reposition, or cut and add more white paper to the piece. This process continues until the group is satisfied with the results.
So, what do we learn from this?
First, students learn that nothing is precious. There is always one student who does not want to rip his or her paper. That student always feels that they have created a painting worth keeping "as is". There are also always students who feel the piece is "done" before the group agrees to stop. They don't want to change the piece because they feel it is great "as is".By forcing the students to change their work repeatedly, they learn that nothing is so precious that it cannot be altered. By the end of the activity, students almost always feel that it is always possible to make changes to a piece of art without ruining the piece.
Second, the students learn to work as a group and respect the views of one another. They learn to listen to differing opinions and express their thoughts to the class. They learn to explain their reasoning to others in a way that makes their vision clear to the group.
Lastly, the students learn to see art in a new way. Many students in middle school have a very concrete view of what art can be. This activity allows students to explore the world of non-objective art in a non-threatening way. By working as a group, students are able to respond to shapes and patterns produced by others without feeling the overwhelming urge to make "something" from the marks. The collaborative nature of this activity helps students to remove the personal pressure they often feel to make art "right".
The results of this activity vary from year to year but I always enjoy reading the student responses to the process. There are always "ah-ha" moments where students start to comprehend the idea that art is part experience and part product. This realization is one that helps the students to loosen up a bit in the art room and realize that sometimes what you learn from the experience is more important than the final product.
Middle School Art Educator. Adjunct Art Education Professor. Non-Profit Arts Organization Board Member. Artist. Arts Advocate. Dog-Mom. CrossFit Enthusiast.
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