Last fall, I volunteered to join our school's yearbook committee. I hoped that my interests and experience in art and graphic design could be of some service.
The first task was to agree on a design for the yearbook cover. The committee had the option to choose an existing cover, or submit our own original. One of the school secretaries proposed the idea of having students design a cover during art class.
I was excited for this opportunity, but dreaded the thought of choosing just one design. I decided to assign a project that, when pieced together, would incorporate every sixth grade student's work.
Because the design needed to be completed during art class, I wanted to choose an assignment related to our existing curriculum. I knew sixth graders would eventually be studying Pop Art, so I presented Andy Warhol as a preview to the unit we will study this spring.
Each class looked at a variety of Warhol's prints. Students identified the repetition of image and his use of bold colors. Many of the students had previously seen the work on television, in magazines or on t-shirts. As we begin our full unit on Pop Art later this year, we will explore these observations further.
I asked students to create a composition in the style of Warhol. They were instructed to use our mascot, the hawk, to show their pride for our school. Some students painted, while others used markers, crayons, or colored pencils to complete the assignment. I encouraged them to incorporate colors, text and symbols to communicate their unique personalities. I knew the yearbook cover would be a collection of each student's work, but I still wanted to see each their individuality.
When I look at the finished cover, I see a snapshot of our sixth grade community. The design resembles a quilt, made up of different squares. I think this is a fitting metaphor for students to learn, that as individuals we can work together as a unified group to accomplish any task. All of the designs consist of four hawks, but each is unique to the individual student.
I knew I wanted this cover to be exclusively sixth grade artwork. This will be their last yearbook before beginning junior high. I hope the design will be a fun parting gift to these students, and one of many great memories they had at Oregon Elementary School.
_I recently collaborated with University Galleries at Illinois State to develop program guides for visiting students in grades 6-12. The guides will serve as discussion prompts, response questions, and activities inspired by the exhibited work. I really enjoyed working on this project as a way to introduce students to contemporary art. I hope to teach in an area close in proximity to a gallery or museum. I would encourage my students to explore art outside of the classroom and view current works within their own community.
Below are images of the program guides, focusing on the topics of identity and perception:
Mr. DeWilde's Blog
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