WHY THIS PROJECT?

The purpose of this project is to create an installation constructed from evidence collected from daily experiences and routines. This project will enable students to discover how other artists have used everyday experiences and found materials to create meaning in their work. They will question why these artists have chosen to show us these things and begin to understand how these artists have created meaning while controlling how we look at their work. Students will discover new things about themselves and their classmates through the process of this project that will contribute more meaning to their artwork.


MATERIALS
Samples of teacher’s work from this web site
Samples of student work from this web site
Visual examples of artist’s work
EVIDENCE collection handout
UNITY activity handout
REFLECTION handout
Containers or space to keep the students' evidence
Assorted “evidence” brought by students
VCR
Video Camera
Blank Video Cassette for Camera
Editing Machine (optional)
Blank Video Cassette



REFERENCE ARTISTS
Artists who make art from everyday found objects
Robert Rauschenberg
Kurt Schwitters
Candy Jernigan


LESSON 1: Contemporary Art and Found Objects


Ideally this is done 1 week prior to the beginning of work on the project during class time.

DISCUSSION OF MEDIUM
Show examples of artworks by Rauschenberg, Schwitters, Jernigan, and others that include found objects.

How do these works differ from more conventional drawings, paintings, and sculptures?
Ask the students to speculate about why collage and assemblage first emerged as art media in modern times.

What is contemporary art? Of the visuals presented which ones would you call contemporary? Why?

Contemporary Art: Art that is being made today. Art that is remarkably diverse and fast changing. Today’s artists make a point to keep up with the shifts in technologies as well as ideas. They acknowledge that our lives are varied and fast changing and they want to keep pace. Many of them are concerned with social issues and take a critical stance with regard to the way things are. Contemporary artists employ all media from paint to clay, photography to video, computers to neon.

DISCUSSION OF MEANING
Consider images by Rauschenberg, Schwitters, Jernigan, and others that include found objects.

Discuss the artists’ intended meaning. Discuss the interpretations of the students.

Show examples of teacher and student Evidence projects. (Some teachers are reluctant to show samples of a project because they believe that this may inhibit student creativity. Because the whole idea of a transitory evidence project will be unfamiliar to most students, it’s important to show them images that will stimulate them to collect a wide range of evidence. One way to downplay the effect of “copycatting” is to show widely divergent solutions to the same project problem.)

Discuss the meaning of each piece.

Read statements by the artists.

Discuss whether the artist statements enhance or change the students’ understanding of the artworks.

COLLECT EVIDENCE ASSIGNMENT
Hand out the Evidence Collection Sheet and read it over with the students.

Organize storage areas and containers for the students' evidence. Grocery store bags, either paper or plastic, are efficient and free storage containers. Be sure that students clearly label their evidence bags or boxes with names and period number.

Remind the students each day to continue to collect evidence. It helps to take a minute or two each day to show students some of the interesting materials that have been collected. This will help inspire them to bring in more things.

Cleaning out desks and lockers is a great way to obtain evidence. This can be an ideal end-of-the-year project, a way to thoughtfully consider the last few months.



LESSON 2: Discussing Unity and Variety in an Artwork

DISCUSSION
Students learn about the different ways that unity and variety can be created in an artwork. They receive a Unity & Variety handout to help them consider strategies for creating unity and variety in their artworks.


UNITY & VARIETY WORKSHEET: A GROUP ACTIVITY
Students choose a table to work at for the period. They should choose the table based on their interest in the art on that table. Each table features the work of a different modern to contemporary artist. Prints, pictures cut from magazines, or a book featuring the artist can be used to represent the artist’s work. Try to choose some artists whose work shows a connection to found objects.

Students are to choose a work of art and then answer the questions on the UNITY & VARIETY handout. They share their answers with the group. The group decides on one piece of artwork to present to the entire class. Every member of the group should be prepared to present the work to the class and discuss the way that the artist created both unity and variety within the piece.

In most art classrooms peer discussion is a distraction from the content and focus of the class. When discussion about art is at the heart of the class it is usually in the form of a classroom critique that is mediated by the teacher. In this group learning activity, the emphasis is on peer discussion. It’s easy for the teacher to move throughout the room, observing the small group discussions, learning valuable information about how students respond to artworks.


DISCUSSION OF MULTIPLE MEANINGS
One student from each table presents a piece of work to the class and points out how unity and variety were achieved. The student will also be asked to describe what meaning they discovered within the piece. Other students should be called on for their insights. The teacher should add his or her insight as well as discussing the artists’ intentions. It is important for the students to come away from this activity with an understanding that contemporary art can have multiple meanings. Artists create their own meaning in a work. Each viewer brings all of his or her life experiences to the work and the work is then “re-created” by the viewer.

REMINDER: ALL EVIDENCE SHOULD BE AT SCHOOL FOR THE NEXT CLASS
Students bring found evidence in a bag that is labeled with name and homeroom.



LESSON 3: Arranging Evidence

OBSERVATION
Have students lay their evidence out on their desks.

Have them walk around the room and look at one another’s evidence.

Ask them to think about what the evidence does and does not reveal about each person.


TEACHER DEMONSTRATION
Discuss with the students that they will be creating INSTALLATION ART on their desks. Installations are works of art that are created in a space by an artist. Installations are temporary artworks that exist for a limited amount of time until the artist disassembles them.

The students work in this way, rather than in “permanent” collage because it provides a limitless avenue for them to explore different compositions and to discover how meaning can change based on where things are placed next to one another. It also helps students to develop an appreciation of impermanence and performance in contemporary art practices.

Arrange your evidence in front of the class without thinking about it too much. Just do it. Ask the students if they can identify how you created unity within the piece. Ask them to identify ways that you used variety. Maybe you created unity, maybe you didn’t. The point is to play first, then discover whether you have achieved unity and variety. Tell the students this.


MAKE ART
Have each student arrange his or her evidence to create a visually interesting installation. Videotape each student’s installation or assign teams of students to do the videotaping.

Remind the students to stay at their desks until you come around to tape them. If their name is not creatively integrated into the piece, have them say their name when you give the sign. Afterwards they should walk around looking at other’s work and locate installations that exhibit unity and variety. They should be prepared to comment on the piece the following day in class.

Spend the at least the last 10 minutes of class taking 5 second videos of each student’s installation. Dub the footage onto a videocassette so that you can play back the tape for discussion the following day.

REMINDER: STUDENTS SHOULD BRING MORE EVIDENCE.
They should bring in new evidence each day for the rest of the week


NO VIDEO CAMERA
If you do not have a video camera you can still do this project.

Have the students set up their installations for half the day each class and then use the final half of the class to hold a discussion. The video camera just speeds things up a bit and is a nice way to document the students' process and progress. It is not crucial to the project.



LESSON 4: Arranging for Meaning


DISCUSSION
Review the tape from the day before. Discuss those pieces that showed strong unity and variety. Discuss pieces that evoked a strong or unusual message or meaning.


MAKE ART
The goal for today is to create a new installation considering meaning or message unity and variety. Remind the students to stay at their desks until you come around to tape them. If their name is not creatively integrated into the piece, have them say their name when you give the sign. Afterwards they should walk around looking at others work and locate installations that exhibit meaning or message, unity, and variety. They should be prepared to comment on the piece the following day in class.

REMINDER: STUDENTS SHOULD BRING MORE EVIDENCE
Ask them to think about what kind of information their evidence reveals. Ask them to consider the message or meaning that their installation will reveal.

Spend the last 10 minutes of class taking 5-second videos of each student’s installation. Dub the footage onto a videocassette so that you can play back the tape for discussion the following day.



LESSON 5: Arranging for Movement


DISCUSSION
Review the tape from the day before. Discuss those pieces that showed strong unity and variety. As you go, point out those pieces where movement carries the eye through the entire piece. Explain how directions of line, direction of shape, repetition or placement of any of the elements have created movement.


MAKE ART
Explain that now in addition to creating unity and variety, the students should arrange their evidence in a way that moves the viewer’s eye through the entire installation. They should consider creating movement today in their installation. Afterwards students should walk around, look at others work and locate installations that exhibit meaning or message, unity and variety, or movement. They should be prepared to comment on the piece the following day in class.


REMINDER: STUDENTS SHOULD BRING MORE EVIDENCE
Ask them to think about what kind of information their evidence reveals. Ask them to consider how their message or meaning might change based on the addition of new evidence.

Spend the last 10 minutes of class taking 5-second videos of each student’s installation. Dub the footage onto a videocassette so that you can play back the tape for discussion the following day.



LESSON 6: Arranging for Emphasis


DISCUSSION
Review the tape from the day before. As you go, point out those pieces where movement carries the eye through the entire piece. Today’s focus will be emphasis. Discuss installations where a piece of evidence has been emphasized. Discuss ways that emphasis was achieved--contrast, isolation, convergence. This lesson plan does not include a worksheet for movement or emphasis because students in the pilot class had already covered these concepts during the year.


MAKE ART
Students should be considering the meaning or message that they want to convey. They do not have to use all of their evidence at this point. They should be selective in what they use and how it is displayed. They should consider which piece or pieces of evidence they want to emphasize. They may also consider hiding or partially obscuring evidence within the piece. (Note that the teacher did not create an emphasis worksheet for this project because the students had learned about emphasis earlier in the year so this project reinforced previously learned vocabulary.)

Today’s installation should consider message, unity, variety, and movement; however, the primary goal is to emphasize a piece of evidence that holds special meaning to the artist. Afterwards students should walk around, look at other’s work and locate installations that exhibit strong meaning or message, unity and variety, movement and emphasis. They should be prepared to comment on the piece the following day in class.

REMIND STUDENTS that tomorrow is the last day to bring in evidence.

Ask them to think about what kind of information their evidence reveals as well as how the meaning or message has changed based on the addition of new evidence. Ask them to consider the message or meaning that their final installation will reveal.



LESSON 7: Final Installation


DISCUSSION
Review the tape from the day before. As you go through the tape, have the students point out the best examples of installations that showing meaning, unity and variety, movement, or emphasis.


MAKE ART
Students create a final installation that exhibits an understanding of unity and variety, movement, emphasis, and personal meaning or message.


REFLECTION/ARTIST STATEMENT
Students complete a reflection sheet after they have set up their final installation. The information gathered on the reflection sheet will be used to create an artist statement.



LESSON 8: Artist Statement


WRITING AN ARTIST STATEMENT
Have each student create a title for his or her installation and write an artist’s statement to accompany the piece. The students should describe where their evidence came from and why they chose to include the evidence in their piece. They are to describe the meaning or importance behind the evidence. In addition, the students should be able to explain why they emphasized certain pieces and how they intended the viewer’s eye to move through the installation. Finally, they should describe how they attempted to unify the piece and explain what meaning or message they were trying to reveal in their work.

SAMPLE STATEMENT:
My Trip with Soccer
Kelly Morgan
My evidence mostly came from Northeast Park in Park Ridge or from old handouts from my coach. I chose to do my installation about soccer because I spend most of my time doing it, either playing it or learning about it. The one piece that I emphasized was my old cleat shoelace. I put it there because when I wore it our team won first place. I made it stand out by placing it so it looked big because it is a big part of my life. Everything is unified because everything is from soccer. The meaning I wanted to get across was that I spend most of my life playing soccer.






























CLOSURE
Display the finished work and with accompanying artist statements in a gallery-like space such as the school library. For the University of Illinois at Chicago Gallery 400 show, we brought school desks to the gallery so that each piece was “framed” by its own desk surface.

Consider creating a video in which students read their artist statements while the visual shows the installation piece completed or being created. Show the tape on a monitor in the hallway before school.

Take conventional photographs or digital pictures of the final installations. Display the photos with the Artist Statements.


DISCUSSION
Let each student present his or her installation. Did anyone in the class feel that they learned something new about this person from this project? Ask the students to reflect on whether they learned anything new about themselves from working on this project.
Discussion of personal issues requires a teacher to have firm control of the class when necessary. Teachers who ask that students share inner thoughts and feelings need to provide a safe and respectful environment in which to do so.

Because they are not often asked to bring their full humanity into the classroom, the first time you conduct a more personal discussion, students may begin to act goofy and say rude things. This should never be permitted. Be prepared to stop and establish ground rules in a calm and non-judgmental manner if someone says something inappropriate or unkind. You can create a class with a climate of trust where students feel free to reveal more about themselves.


Click here to print out Process Plans for the Evidence project.

Click here to print out the Evidence Collection Worksheet for the Evidence project.

Click here to print out Unity/Variety Worksheet for the Evidence project.

Click here to print out Artist Statement Worksheet for the Evidence project.