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Introduce, or refresh, the concept of surface area to your students with an investigation into the Joel Shapiro “Untitled” sculpture in Guangzhou, China.
During an investigation into the concept of surface area, introduce students to the sculptures of American-born artist Joel Shapiro. Encourage students to research Shapiro’s life and his unique style of sculpting. Once their research is complete, pose the question, “What connection does Shapiro’s sculpture installed at the U.S. Embassy in Guangzhou, China have with the concept of surface area?” Allow time for discussion.
Organize students into small groups. After reviewing how to calculate surface area, challenge students to create a Shapiro-like sculpture using recycled cardboard boxes, duct tape, Crayola® No Drip School Glue, and brass fasteners. Provide class time for student discussion into the engineering of creating a sculpture that is figurative, yet playful, as Shapiro describes his Guangzhou work.
Once students are set on a collaborative piece using the recycled materials provided, challenge them to calculate the surface area of their sculpture. Measurements and calculations should be well documented and prepared for presentation with their final artwork.
Provide Crayola Portfolio Series Acrylic Paint and paint brushes for applying the color to student sculptures. Recycled newspaper will also be helpful in covering work areas. Allow sufficient time for paint to dry. Ask students to discuss the significance of the shade of blue used in Shapiro’s sculpture to Chinese culture.
When all sculptures are complete, student groups will prepare to present their work to peers. Included in the presentations should be a discussion of how the team calculated the surface area of their final product. As a reminder, all calculations should be prepared in such a way as to be posted with the sculpture display.
Display sculptures in a prominent area of the classroom or school. Invite students to share with their parents the inspiration for their artwork and cultural significance of Shapiro’s Guangzhou sculpture.
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