This was a loooooooong project for my third graders. We looked at Jeff Koons' work. Koons is an American Post-Pop artist. He is most well-known for his large reflective sculpture balloon dogs. Most of his sculptures use a reflective surface. He likes how the reflective surface changes the way you perceive the area around you by warping and distorting the room on its shiny shell. He depicts objects that are popular in pop culture such as balloon animals, Popeye, and pool inflatables. His sculptures are highly rendered, down to the subtle creases along the seems of his metal pool inflatables. I find his balloon dogs particularly interesting because they toy with the idea of life and death. When something is full of air/breath like a human or a balloon, the item is thought to have life. But when those things run out of air, they become deflated or lifeless. By creating balloon dogs out of metal, they lose their ability to deflate making them immortal. He is a highly controversial artist who uses around 130 "assistants" to produce his ideas. The kids were amazed that he is the second richest living artist and is worth $500 million.
Throughout this project, I began to try to incorporate the use of videos in the art-making process so that you all can see what goes on in the art room. This was a SUPER stressful project for me. First of all, we were paper mache-ing which is something that I am NOT very good at. Because we were paper mache-ing balloon dogs, I had to get up really early each morning to blow up the balloons. If I tried to do it the night before, the balloons would deflate too much over night.
For the initial paper mache-ing, I paired the kids up because I worried that if they worked individually, they wouldn't get the full first coat on. Then the balloon would deflate before the next class and they would have to start over. So two students worked on a dog. Then the next class, they worked on the other dog for their partner. After everyone got their first coat on, we added two more coats of paper mache. Throughout the project, we talked about form and how things that are 3D have form which means they are tall, wide, and have depth. At Harmony, we painted several coats of acrylic paint onto our dog to give it color. At Consolidated, we paper mache'd colored paper onto the dog to give it color. We also talked about our personal beliefs on whether students thought he was an artist or not. Some felt that because he came up with the idea for the project, he was an artist. Others felt that because he didn't physically make the artwork, he shouldn't be considered the artist.
34 students believe Jeff Koons is an artist. 22 believe he is not.
Harmony and Consolidated Elementary Art Teacher in Milton, WI. UW-Eau Claire graduate. WAEA Membership Chair.