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Fox Lane Middle School Art Students Get a Hands-On Lesson in Sculpting

students in Unified Arts I sculpt with paper

Paper, glue and markers. That was all Fox Lane Middle School students had to create sculptures during a recent Unified Arts I class with Gina Keidong.

The 3D-based course requires seventh graders to focus on the concept of taking something from 2D to 3D. In this particular class, Keidong was trying to gauge which skills her students already possess.

“I can either stand up here and lecture them or I can see what they can do,” Keidong said.

It should come as no surprise that the latter option led to some interesting results. Students worked their way through the sculpture-making process, using critical thinking and problem-solving skills while Keidong watched on. Designs included objects ranging from a pencil to a mailbox to a haunted house.

“They probably need to learn about how much glue to use and about connection points,” Keidong said. “So, next class, they’ll learn about slot connections. All of this is building toward making their own abstract sculptures based on a two-dimensional drawing.”

Students in Keidong’s class work on a “skill builder” project for the first half of the quarter. The second half of the quarter is more open-ended. They can expand on the skill or work on something new like drawing, painting, collage or printmaking.

“It’s a choice-based environment where students can use this classroom like a studio,” Keidong said. “If you notice, in the front, all of the bins and cabinets are labeled. As more materials are made available, there will be more labels. There will be a paint station or a hot glue gun station. That’s what happens in here, but if you go next door it’s a totally different environment. Students really get the idea of how artists can work in different spaces and use the same tools in different ways. 

But, before they really get to work, Keidong needs to know what they can do. After about 20 minutes of experimentation, she called the students back together for what felt much more like a brainstorming session than a lecture.

“How many of you would have felt better if you had a plan?” Keidong asked her students. “We’re about to embark on a big sculpture. Unless you have a plan and unless you know your materials well, you’re going to feel defeated.”

From there, the group discussed things like how you know if you are using too much glue (drips and dribbles are a good indicator) and how to effectively get pieces to stick together (you can make your own tape or “tabs”). The lesson unfolded slowly, with students thinking their way through as Keidong provided gentle nudges in the right direction. The result was empowered artists, ready to come back to class for their next challenge.

FLMS students work on 3D art Unified Arts I discusses sculpture making