I found a very interesting artist for my grade 5 visual art lesson on the unit of inquiry, “How the World Works”. The name of the artist is Tony Orrico, an American and best known as “human spirograph”. Spirograph is like a mathematical toy that creates elaborate circular shapes known as “hypotrochoids” and “epitrochoids”.
Tony Orrico is famous for his “Penwald Drawings”, which consist of a series of bilateral drawings in which the artist explores the use of the human body as an instrument to create geometric patterns through movement and course. Through a series of careful movements and repetition of his arms, Tony Orrico creates compelling and beautiful geometric artwork. Tightly clenching carbon sticks of graphite in his fists, he makes series of repeated and varied movements involving his entire body over predetermined periods of time or until certain numbers of strokes, cycles or rotations are done.
Tony Orrico does not only use body movements to create his masterpieces but also his teeth. He spends between 15 minutes and seven hours to complete one of his artworks.
In the end, I was surprised when we did a reflection. Students commented that they admired Tony Orrico’s stamina in doing his masterpieces. Students said that Tony Orrico’s artworks look very easy to do, but in reality one has to work hard to follow his style. Students noted that Tony Orrico can spend 15 minutes to seven hours non-stop, but when they were doing it as a group, they felt tired even just for a minute. It made them realize that creating a masterpiece does not only require creativity but also passion and perseverance.
By: Irma Dwi Savitri
Visual Art Teacher
BINUS SCHOOL Simprug
There are multiple ways you can integrate art into your unit of inquiry. You can incorporate it as an expression of human creativity and imagination, or as a form of communication. The latter is the method used in my school’s Program of Inquiry in our ‘How We Express Ourselves’ unit in Year 4.
After categorizing artworks into 1D, 2D, 3D, and 4D dimensional formats, the students saw that art is deeply woven into human life. They saw, for instance, 2D art as accompanying illustrations in every chapter in their school books and 3D creations in their own classroom – items that they usually sit and write on without giving much thought to them. Although that was already a fun eye-opening phase of their UOI, what followed was even more exciting. The students came to a realization that art is a form of communication that transcends cultural and language barriers. One excellent example is the art of illustration or pictures. Trying, with shaky results, to decipher written public signs in foreign languages, they immediately realized that the internationally used text-less picture signs in public places such as airports are a brilliant use of art that is also very effective to convey messages to people from different cultures who speak different languages. As my classroom is currently a home to children of five different nationalities, they discovered that art was also a way to help them understand each other better.
The next excitement was when the students found other purposes of art such as to preserve a civilization’s history, a cultural identity, a standard for beauty, and a medium for product marketing. It was a truly wonderful learning experience for both the students and myself.
At the end of the Unit of Inquiry, I found that integrated art is a superb tool to develop the students’ Communicator and Open-minded profiles. The possibilities for classroom activities where students have to strategize ways of communicating ideas, feelings, or even instructions are limitless and students always come out of every activity with more understanding, with the occasional admiration, of each other and of different cultures.
Meidiana, Year 4 teacher, Jakarta Multicultural School (firstname.lastname@example.org)
At Sekolah Ciputra, we consider the Visual Arts room not only a place for students to create artwork; instead we consider it more as a place for freedom of expression, for exploring possibilities, for challenging creativity and for promoting inquiry. The Visual Arts teacher is not the single authority in this space. We offer students opportunities to build the Visual Arts room together with the teacher. We use the learning opportunities offered under the transdisciplinary theme “How We organize ourselves” to engage students collectively in realizing this vision of a shared creative space. Below are the details of the unit:
A supportive work environment is essential to the development of our creativity
Key concepts: Function, Responsibility and Reflection
Related concepts: organization, work environment, creativity, aesthetic, design,
Lines of Inquiry
- Considerations when working in a Visual Arts room
- How the Visual Arts room supports the development of our creativity
- Maintaining a supportive Visual Arts room environment
Summative assessment task(s):
Students work in groups to design a safe and comfortable Visual Arts room to be used by the entire school community. This room should be organized with clear procedures and agreements created by all users (teachers and students). Students need to present their ideas for management, organization and design of the Visual Arts room to teachers and peers. The chosen ideas are accepted and applied in the Visual Arts room for use by everyone.
Once the idea is adopted, it is applied throughout the year. This has helped to build a greater sense of shared ownership of this creative space, with students actively taking responsibility for maintaining the space.
In addition to engaging students in designing and maintaining the Visual Arts room, here are some tips on creating an environment of inquiry that I gathered during my first year as a Visual Arts teacher:
- Materials and equipment should be easily accessible by students. When there are varied items available for them to use independently, then you may expect more from students in terms of creativity and inquiry, especially when exploring the use of these tools and materials.
- Make the thinking visible. Just like in other inquiry classrooms, you need to involve students in thinking and creative processes. More importantly this needs to be visible in the classroom. Use thinking routines such as “I see…I Think…I Wonder” which fits well with “responding to art” activities.
- Display provoking questions, along with samples of Art work. These questions provoke students to think about their responses to art work and to take inspiration from the samples. The questions should be conceptual and related to the UOI.
- Involve students in responding to Art. Encourage students to express their thoughts and opinions as this might lead to further inquiry questions. At the same time, students are learning about the techniques and elements of Visual Arts.
- Display lots of provoking images and artwork. These are great primary resources for allowing students to tune in to various art concepts and can also be a source of inspiration.
- Provide a variety of books about art. There are books available for students to use both for inspiration and for learning about technique.
Those are just a small sample of ideas and tips that could hopefully be useful for your school’s Visual Arts room or maybe for your classroom.
Yan Yulius – PYP Coordinator at Sekolah Ciputra, Surabaya, Indonesia