267: Art from Trash



My art students have an interesting project that we are working on in class – we are making three-dimensional sculpture from materials that would normally be considered as trash. This serves several purposes and learning goals – first, that art can be created out of anything that is available, even trash. Second, this assignment proves that there is value in even trash, when it is used for a higher purpose. Third, it makes students look at ordinary trash in new ways – and THAT is a fundamental principle of art. Last, they are to do a little research on the Web and see what other artists have done using trash to help spark creative ideas of their own. There are some truly inspiring examples of works created with recycled materials, and I want students to look at what others have done in order to broaden their own creative horizons, as well as to become familiar with the work of other contemporary artists.

Last, after their work is created, I want them to write about why they made it the way that they did – what meanings can they find in their work, or what messages were they expressing when they did it this way, instead of that way? Why did they choose these colors, instead of those colors? What mood is expressed? What feelings  do they think of when they view their completed work? Does it portray what they intended, or did it generate a life of its own and take them off in another direction entirely from what they originally intended? Why did you add these pieces? What do they mean? Where is the emphasis?

Dragon from cans

Dragon from cans

I always create a work of my own while the students are working on theirs. Sometimes seeing how I solve problems with my own sculpture inspires them to be creative with theirs. Sometimes they are afraid to work in larger sizes, so mine is usually fairly large to encourage them to think bigger than they might have. And, I bring in creative trash materials for them for see and think about perhaps using in their own sculpture: scrap screen wire, bicycle parts, metal pieces, styrofoam, broken jewelry, interesting rocks, and whatever else I can scrounge (it IS trash, after all). For many students, this is an entirely new thing. Most art programs do very little with three-dimensional works in the first place, and then only small things.  But, with free trash and building materials, we can do some  impressive-looking things!

Check out this site: http://www.noupe.com/inspiration/40-terrific-works-of-art-made-from-common-trash.html where the images here come from – cool  beans!


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