This account exists in multiple parts:
• Volume 1: Explanation of the Project
• Volume 2: The Frames and the Four Factors
• Volume 3: Starting the Batik Process
• Volume 4: Color Planning Gets More Complex
• Volume 5: It's Time to Die! ...ahem... I Mean Dye.
• Volume 6: These Incredible Artists
Click on any image throughout to see a larger version.
This winter, I found myself in the role of "artist in residence" for a local middle school class. This particular middle school focuses on developing engaging curriculum by anchoring instruction in challenging masterworks from multiple fields, emphasizing the artistic process of experience, inquiry, creation and reflection as cornerstones of learning.
As such, I helped guide the students through the process of creating a complex piece of art that directly incorporated the elements in which they were simultaneously engaged in their pursuits of science, literature, and social studies.
The overall arc of this project was the study of interconnected relationships within a biome. Each student chose an animal on which to focus, and all other elements in their project would revolve around the biome in which their animal could be found.
The following contains excerpts from the text of the project proposal itself - mostly the portions directly relating to the final batik piece completed by each student, though all aspects of the overall project were essential to the students' grasp of the concepts involved, as all things are connected.
This project will span at least two months... during that time, the class will be exposed to multiple experiences that allow them to grasp the ideas of interconnectivity between factors in a biome. This project is designed as an interdisciplinary unit, with specific forays into Science, Social Studies and Literacy (Language Arts and Literature).
The students will study a biome of their choice through four separate, yet interconnected, foci: animals, plants, abiotic factors, and natural cycles. This will be accomplished through library research, in-class activities, labs, and arts based activities. For example, while studying animals, the class will use live animals to study adaptations. When studying plants, the students will dissect flowers and build flowers from construction paper with the intent of learning about the reproductive structures of angiosperms. Additionally, the students will study energy transfer through organisms on a microscopic scale. This component will be the basis for the creation phase of the unit.
The inquiry piece will culminate in a research paper and an imaginative story that utilizes the scientific content and enduring understanding of the factors that support the biome of study.
Students will create a microorganism batik. The connection to relationships and the significant question will be that the micro invertebrates and the random nature of the batik will represent the beginning of the food chain and the micro-habitats that support the larger biome of study. Generally, the art pieces will consist of a 24″ x 18″ batik suspended within a wooden frame. Each side of the frame will be painted to represent one of the four factors of study.
Just as a biome is dependent upon relationships between multiple factors, so, too, will be the completion of the project. The students will be encouraged to make metaphorical connections between the project components and the relationships they affect within Earth’s biosphere.
I worked with the class on this project every day for 5 weeks, with a few preparation days with the class before that time. The next few posts will chronicle the process of completing the project with the students.