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Coil a Portrait

Compare modern with traditional African tribal cultures by researching how individual and group identity are expressed through hair arrangements and other appearance norms.

  • Grade 6
    Grades 7 and 8
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Students investigate the practice of hair sculpture in African tribal cultures. What other alterations of physical appearance have been practiced by native cultures? Discuss with the class how these practices compare to the role of hair styles and other purposeful appearance alterations in our own culture.
    2. Students research contemporary artist Terry Niedzialak who creates hair montages that make statements about social conflicts (see Fiberarts, Jan/Feb 1991). Study his fiber sculpture style for ideas to use when making your own self portrait sculpture.
    3. In the center of a piece of oak tag or poster board, use Crayola® Washable Markers to sketch a simple self-portrait. Use a mirror if it helps.
    4. Roll coils of Crayola Model Magic, either on a flat surface or between the hands. Press some coils flat. Roll up others in cinnamon-roll fashion.
    5. Place the coils on the sketch to create facial features and hair. With Crayola School Glue, attach the Model Magic pieces to the paper and each other. Cut the rest of the paper away with Crayola Scissors. Let the sculpture dry.
    6. Color the portrait using Crayola Watercolors or Tempera Paint and Brushes. Or use Crayola Washable Markers and brush water over the surface. Let the sculpture dry again.
    7. Use Crayola School Glue to embellish the face with feathers, dried flowers, or other decorative materials. Glue a paper clip to the back for a hanger.
  • Standards

    LA: Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    SS: Explore and describe similarities and differences in the ways groups, societies, and cultures address similar human needs and concerns.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of their ideas.

    VA: Use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks.

    VA: Describe and place a variety of art objects in historical and cultural contexts.

  • Adaptations

    In teams of two, students interview a teammate then create a coil portrait of the partner.

    Students exchange coil portraits and study their new possession. Following a poetry format that has recently been studies, students compose an original poem focused on the portraits now in their possession. Display the portraits in the classroom along with the original poems.

    Challenge students to re-create their portraits using a different color scheme. Compare and contrast the two forms of the same portrait. How do the varying colored coils alter the artistic vision? Students compose a written compare/contrast paragraph to accompany their pair of portraits.


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