Sculptures for a Peaceful Planet

By Nancy Katz, December 13, 2006

Grade Level

  • Middle School

Category

  • Other

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies

Lesson Time

Three to nine forty-five minute class periods (depending on size of sculptures and student involvement)

Introduction

How do you create a symbol or logo for a topic as big as peace and still convey the meaning of the topic? How do symbols and logos come about? How do designers decide what constitutes a meaningful symbol? This topic seems very relevant now as our country, and others around the globe, are engaging in wars. Peace seems to be everywhere: on cereal boxes—The Peace Cereal Company, on clothing—The Peace Frogs, and on greeting cards—Seeds of Peace organization. The goal of this lesson is for students to design an original, personal symbol for peace. By looking at known symbols and studying the origin of these symbols, students will understand how symbolic and visual meaning can be associated with an image. Hopefully, the students will understand what components make a symbol widely used and understood by many people. This understanding will aid the students when they create their own symbols. In this lesson, the students will design a symbol for peace and transform the 2-dimensional symbol into a 3-dimensional sculpture. Students will envision where the sculpture/structure could be built to relay the ideas of peace and how it could inspire people to live a more peaceful existence.

National Standards

Objectives

Students will:
  • identify symbols and logos and decipher their meanings in relation to who created them
  • create a personal peace symbol that will be the basis of a sculpture
  • extend the idea for their symbol from a 2-dimensional design to a 3-dimensional sculpture and envision that sculpture in a larger setting, made from different materials, that could possibly impact a larger community
  • work in a group to design a new peace symbol
  • create their own symbols and then discuss with those in their group how they can incorporate a number of ideas together to make the most effective new peace symbol
  • work together and share ideas

Resources

http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/node http://www.designboom.com/contemporary/peace.html

Materials

  • pencils and paper for sketching
  • heavy-weight paper for constructing paper models
  • tape
  • scissors
  • cardboard
  • paper mâché
  • foam-core board
  • masking tape
  • wire
  • Styrofoam
  • Sculpey clay
  • Exacto knives
  • acrylic paint
  • brushes
  • fabric
  • any other materials students want to use in their sculptures

Procedures

  • Hold a class discussion about the idea of “peace.” Have students brainstorm symbols of peace and write their ideas on the board. Show them various peace symbols (the peace sign, a white dove, an olive branch, a crane, the hand-gesture peace sign, etc.). Discuss what the symbols have in common and how they demonstrate “peace.” If you know how the symbols originated, relay these stories to the students.
  • After examining the origin of the most well known peace symbols, show students products that have peace as part of their mission (Peace Cereal, Peace Frogs clothing line, Seeds of Peace greeting cards, etc.).
  • Instruct the students that they will be creating their own symbol for peace, and converting it into a sculpture.
  • Have students think about and write a journal entry describing when, how, and where they experience peace on a personal level.
  • Using these ideas, have them begin sketching a new peace symbol. The students should first sketch individually, and then if they would like to work in a group, they should incorporate ideas from all of their sketches into their sculpture.
  • They should draw various versions of their symbol, playing around with the design and adding, changing, and moving around the components.
  • Once they are satisfied with their 2-D symbol, instruct them that they will be transferring it to 3-D with the construction of a paper model. They should use the original drawing as a departure point. They don’t necessarily need to duplicate their drawing, but rather use the ideas as a framework to build upon. By making a 3-dimensional paper model, it is easier to visualize how a sculpture of this symbol can take form.
  • Have the students continue the construction process, making their sculpture out of paper mâché. Make sure they focus on the balance—physical balance due to the nature of the materials used and artistic balance of the image. Continue to ask them if they are able to see and understand the meaning of their peace symbol. Also, how are they able to assimilate the nature of a certain material with their message? Once the structure is ready, have them paint or add other details.
  • When the sculptures are complete, set them up around the room and have each group or student make a presentation about their piece and how it symbolizes peace.
  • After all have been presented, have students walk around and write constructive comments about each sculpture.

Assessment

Instead of a rubric, students will complete a written evaluation about their work. It should be completed individually even if the students worked on the project in a group. Questions:
  • Where do you envision placing your peace sculpture? Why would you place it there?
  • If you had unlimited funds, technological knowledge, and support, what materials would you use to construct the sculpture and what would be the finished size?
  • In what ways did your original drawing and paper model differ from the completed sculpture?
  • In what ways do you think your sculpture will affect people and actually serve an agent for promoting peace in the world?

Enrichment Extension Activities

Hold an exhibit of the students’ work and invite community members to the exhibit. The idea for this project was inspired by the theme for a concert presented this fall by the Binghamton Community Orchestra—Music for a Peaceful Planet. It featured an original composition by Tom Schneller “In Memory," as well as music by electric violinist composer, Ritsu Katsumata, "Dies Irae: An Elegy for the Victims of War." The student's work, "Sculptures for a Peaceful Planet," was presented in an exhibition at the concert. Students at the concert were introduced and were able to talk to members of the community about their work. They saw firsthand that art and design can be a force for change in society, as well as a way of envisioning and helping to create a better world. In exhibiting their works to a wider community, students were able to make their voices heard and realized they can make a difference.

Teacher Reflection

The students were very successful in creating their own logos for peace and then transferring their ideas to the third-dimension. They were able to envision their work as part of something larger where it might act as an agent of change in the world. This was a fairly long term project which depended partly on the size of the sculptures the students created. In the time they were working on the project and developing and expanding their ideas, we had much time for questioning and discussion. All through the working process, I was assessing their work and their thoughts about what they were doing and this was shared with them as they progressed. The assessment demonstrated to me that the majority of the students used their experiences and vision to see their work on a larger sphere. The assessment also showed how the students were able to begin with a very small kernel—their logo for peace—and continue to build upon that. The instructional strategy of working in a group was successful, but there were some groups that were too large for the tasks necessary to complete the structure. This was handled by group diversifying and making a coordinating or partner structure. If some students were finished before others, they would help those who were working on a more monumental size and scope. The strategy of having a leader in the group who designated jobs worked well, but that person at times had to be reminded not to be too bossy! The most successful piece was done by a group of 3 girls who literally went back to the drawing board after realizing their first idea did not work structurally once they began construction. Not all of the students were able to work on the same level of self-evaluation as these students. They were able to see their failure not as failure but as an opportunity to work with the design and desired materials and make them work in new ways. I hope the next time I do this lesson I have the opportunity to work with another teacher—either Social Studies, or English, or both. Students wrote about their pieces, but they could have integrated more aspects of these disciplines if other teachers had been involved. I would also show the students more art work, both visual and musical, that was created as a result of a social or political situation. This was touched upon in our beginning discussions of the well known peace logos, but I would like to have expanded upon it further. It was evident to all who saw the works that the students’ conceptions and the execution of the works were original and individual.

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