Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Collaboration: Hearts and Hands Mural

A fellow art teacher on an art teachers Facebook group was my inspiration to create this hand emoji themed mural. (FELLOW TEACHER on Facebook! If you see my post, please reach out to me, I'd love to give you credit for this project!) I enjoy creating collaboration projects as first lessons of the year in the art room. The small size of each students contribution allows for choice. Every student feels successful, I get a chance to assess their skills, and it breaks the ice in the classroom as we all get to know each other. Not to mention we have a beautiful piece of art to hang in the hallway.

One of our finished murals.

I began by searching for a stock photo that I thought would make the best final mural image. Here's the one I chose below. I then printed it out, and placed it on a light box with graph paper over it to plot out the tiled grid. I drew the hand shapes in pencil, and sectioned off the image in red, giving each panel a letter designation. 

I made each square of the graph paper equal to a 3" tile that each of my students would contribute. The paper size for each panel was 18"x18", except for the right most panels, they were 18" x 24". The final size of the mural was 8' wide by 6 'tall.

Plotting out the design.

We discussed the elements of art and my students were given guidelines for their assignment. They had to create at least three tiles to add to the mural, with minimal white space, utilizing the elements of art, and their subject matter had to be appropriate for school display. We used colored Sharpies for our designs, and I provided half sheets of copy paper so they could color all the way to the edges of their tiles without marking up the tables too much.

Creating tile drawings.
As they worked on their tile designs I prepped paper panels, each labeled with a letter of the alphabet. Then I created numbered grids, X marks for spaces that needed tiles, and a corresponding panel beneath them

As the children began to finish their designs, I made several stations each with a panel, glue sponge, and pencil. They were allowed to glue their tiles anywhere that a square had an X marked across it. Wherever they glued their tile, they had to also write their name and class in the corresponding tile below (this helped me with grading, as their names on the back of their tiles got glued down). So in the example, if a student glued their tile to spot #15, they then needed to sign their name and class on the #15 in the smaller panel below. Oh, and see that half-filled diagonal square in the right column? To accommodate the finished image we needed some diagonal designs too. I saved them for extra credit/early finishers. No need to cut the tile in half, just design a half tile drawing, and glue down like a full one. The colored-in areas just needed to match up.

Students add their tiles to the mural.
It was fun to watch how they chose the places to add their tiles to the murals. Some wanted to spread them out by gluing at different stations, some wanted them all together, some chose favorite numbers and so on.

Mural details.
To assemble the mural, I graded their work and removed the lower panels for each piece (hold onto them if you plan to let the kids cut up the mural to retrieve their tiles after it has been exhibited). Then I just assembled in alphabetical order! I taped panels together on the back with masking tape, into vertical strips, and then hung them adjacent to each other to display the mural in full. It's easier to transport and to hang than fastening the entire mural together as one piece. I saved the final reveal for the kids too, so they tried to guess what kind of image our tiles would make each time we worked. Here is the finished piece we made at my second school.
The fact that this collaboration culminates with a positive message to share with the school community is the perfect ending to this unit. I hope you try out a tiled collaboration with your kids. Maybe you'll choose a different kind of image to make into a mural. I'd love to see, so share if you do!

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