Material Exploration

Art 3; Kaitlynn Mockett

Unit Rationale

This unit is meant to expand the idea of what materials and mediums can be in art practice. It is important for upper level high school students to understand that anything can become a material if you know how to appropriate it. This upper level class will begin to look past the foundations of art and into conceptual development. Through the exploration of traditional and non-traditional materials, we will touch on important issues: reuse, appropriation, experimentation and exploration of personal identity. It will also encourage a focus on the creative process rather than only the end result.  Exemplar artists such as Frida Kahlo, Chuck Close, Gabriel Dawe, Sandy Skoglund and Choi Jeong Hwa will help students explore these concepts through different, extraordinary materials. This unit will be highly influenced by the interests and preferences shown by students.

Stage 1

BIG IDEA: Materials surround us every day. In the arts, we tend to focus on traditional materials: graphite, paints, and clay. We are encompassed by so much more than that. The big idea for this unit is to see what is around us as a possible part of our works of art, to think creatively and to appropriate materials into mediums.

Established Goals (GPS):

VAHSVAMC 1. Engages in the creative process, imagines new ideas by using mental and visual imagery, conceptualizes these ideas by using artistic language and contextual understandings in assessing learning, and develops a personal artistic voice that gives unique form to these concepts.

VAHSVAMC 2. Finds and solves problems through open-ended inquiry, the consideration of multiple options, weighing consequences and assessing results.

VAHSVAMC 3. Cultivates critical thinking and logical arguments in aesthetics

VAHSVACU 1. Articulates ideas and universal themes from different cultures of the past and present.

VAHSVAPR 1. Uses formal qualities of art (elements and principles) to create unified composition and communicate meaning.

VAHSVAPR 2. Understands and applies media, techniques and processes in drawing

VAHSVAPR3. Understands and applies media, techniques and processes in color/painting.

VAHSVAPR4. Understands and applies media, techniques and processes in three-dimensional art.

VAHSVAPR 5. Creates artwork reflecting a range of concepts, ideas and subject matter

VAHSVAPR 6. Keeps a visual/verbal sketchbook journal, consistently throughout the course, to collect, develops, and preserve ideas in order to produce works of art around themes of personal meaning.

VAHSVAPR 7. Develops a portfolio of artwork for the course.

VAHSVAPR 8. Plans and presents appropriate exhibition of own artwork.

VAHSVAAR 1. Makes written and oral critiques of own works of art.

VAHSVAAR 2. Critiques artwork of others individually and in group settings.

VAHSVAAR 3. Develops multiple strategies for responding to and reflecting on artworks.

VAHSVAC 2. Develops 21st century life and work skills and habits of mind for success through the study and production of art.

VAHSVAC 3. Utilizes a variety of resources to see how artistic learning extends beyond the walls of the classroom.


Understandings: Students will understand the difference between traditional materials and non-traditional materials. They will understand the issues we will address and how our work/curriculum touches on them: reuse, appropriation, experimentation, exploration of personal identity.

Possible Misunderstandings: Students may not see the value in appropriating found objects into materials. Students may struggle with working in either 2D or 3D. Students may not understand the importance of collaboration and teamwork. Students may struggle with the idea of exploring identity through material objects.

Essential Questions:
What does appropriation mean?
What is a found object?
What do we use in our everyday life and how can we turn it into creative material?
What are the materials I feel most connected to and why?
What is the difference between 2D and 3D?
What is collaboration and what do we gain from incorporating it?
How do we explore the idea of identity through our assignments?

Students will know:
What a found object is.
The difference between 2D and 3D.
What mixed media is defined as and how to create mixed media works

Students will be able to: appropriate everyday objects into their art process, understand the concept of identity, become experts in at least three new found mediums. Create collaborative, 3D works of art.

Stage 2

Performance Tasks:

Visual Journalbellringers, cover design and sketchbook.
Critiqueboth in-process and final.
Self-Assessmentartist statements will be constructed in lessons 2-5.
Collaboration participation in planning and executing collaborative installation assignment. Students will grade each other and this grade will be averaged with my grade for each student.

Other Evidence:

‘weather checks’gauging state of classroom every day with a quick question
participation gradedaily check on participation either in discussion and critique or involvement in their own work on work days.

Assessment Plan for the whole unit:

Visual Journals will be created and will serve as a method of informal and formal assessment. There will be bi-weekly checks to see how sketches and conceptual ideas are developing, and there will be two final checks, one mid-term and one near final, to make sure students are completing homework assignments. (Creation will occur in Lesson 1, but will be used EVERY class period, for bellringer exercises or for planning artworks).

Weekly Chats will be had with each student per week to see how they are feeling in relation to their progress, the assignments and the curriculum. This will serve as informal assessment, but also as self-assessment (for me).

Self-Assessment will be used in the form of artist statements for projects 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Critique will be used: in-process and final. In-process will serve as a constructive tool for students as they are continuing to work on their assignments and final critique will be used as a way of learning to discuss works of art in a meaningful and constructive way. Each lesson will have at least 1 in-process critique, but hopefully two, and a final critique.

Class discussions will be held at least two times a week, often inspired by a prompt or essential question. This will help gauge whether or not students are on task, understand their assignment and their level of interest.

Participation grades will be taken daily to keep track of students’ use of time, attendance, focus and to make sure they are interested in the project we are working on.

Weather Check “if you were the weather, what would you be like today?” a quick way to gauge the status of my students and my classroom on a daily basis, and if necessary, a signal to adjust or modify the day to work around ‘bad weather.’

Peer Review will be used during the planning period of the artworks. Students will comment on one another’s thumbnail and compositional sketches and share their thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of each project. This can be done in pairs or by post-it reviews.

Lesson Summaries

1. Students will freely explore traditional and non-traditional materials. They will use these new found mediums to create a cover for their visual journals.
View this lesson here

2. Students will delve further into 2D materials and will create a map of their lives, inspired by topographic maps and the events and places that molded them into who they are.
View this lesson here

3. Students will work together to create a collaborative installation that will be exhibited. This collaboration will focus on construction and destruction, or an idea if impermanence. 3D materials will be further explored and processes will be examined closer.
View this lesson here

4. Students will mix new found mediums together in order to come “full circle” through the idea or concept of rejuvenation.
View this lesson here

5. Students will select their favorite mediums and take a closer look at who they are in this “guts” assignment. This is an identity assignment and will serve as the final piece.
View this lesson here


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s