Possible Classroom Concepts: Science – Weather (Wind), Force
Language Arts – Poetry, Literature (The Calder Game by Blue Balliett)
Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Charles Burchfield, Andrew Wyeth, Hokusai, Jeff Walls, David Hockney, Jean-François Millet, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, John Steuart Curry, Alexander Calder, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and Theo Jansen.
Painting, Sculpture, Mobile, Kinetic Sculpture, Organic Shapes
March is famous for being the windy month. When I think of artists who depict wind, I think of Charles Burchfield. In this Burchfield lesson, the writer talks about wind’s invisible nature and ways that we know it’s there. Students can identify and list more wind sources looking at the following artworks. A blowing curtain can be seen in Andrew Wyeth’s “Wind From The Sea”. Sails filled with air can be seen in Winslow Homer’s “Breezing Up”. Blowing paper can be seen in Hokusai’s “Travelers Caught in a Sudden Breeze at Ejiri”, Jeff Walls photograph entitled “A Sudden Gust of Wind” (both found here) and David Hockney’s “Wind”. Wind blowing a tree over can be seen in friends, Jean-François Millet’s “A Gust of Wind” and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s “A Gust of Wind” . Finally, find very forceful wind in John Steuart Curry’s“Tornado Over Kansas”. After the students have viewed these different artist’s impressions of wind, ask them to share and illustrate some of their experiences in wind. Then as a writing prompt have students complete the following: “Who Has Seen The Wind? Neither I nor you, But when ____________________________________.
Artists have illustrated wind in paintings and photographs, but some artists have actually built sculptures that move in reaction to wind. The first artist who built such a sculpture was Alexander Calder. Calder was an engineer turned artist, who wanted to make moving sculptures. His first attempts were motorized. Fortunately for us, he found these motorized sculptures very boring. He thought these sculptures performed the same dance over and over again. He found that if he hung shapes from bases or the ceiling, changing air currents made the sculpture look constantly different. He called these kinetic sculptures mobiles. To see examples of Calder’s mobiles check out this video. If you are interested in more posts about the fascinating and creative Calder, check out more of my Calder posts here and here. Artists, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, created a kinetic sculpture of orange curtains in Central Park entitled, “The Gates”. Look here to view a video of “The Gates”. Theo Jansen built insect-like wind powered sculptures. See a video of “The Strandbeests” here.
If you wish to do a wind powered sculpture, students can create something as simple as a whirliygig like the ones found here. Students can also make a Calder-like mobiles like the ones found on Princess Smartypants. If you have read The Calder Game by Blue Balliett with your students, they can make coded mobiles like those found on Make Art With Me!.
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