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Martin's Maquette

In 2016, at the US Embassy in Beijing, China, a special sculpture will be installed. Invite students to create a mini version of this sculpture for the classroom with the aid of a photograph of the artist, Martin Puryear, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton coupled with a small model (maquette) of the “Untitled” installation.

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
  • 30 Minutes or Less
  • Directions

    1. Research the artist, Martin Puryear, specifically his “Untitled” design planned to be installed at the US Embassy in Beijing, China in 2016. Using the photo of the artist standing by a maquette (model) of that installation with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, invite students to think about the scale of the sculpture. Challenge students to consider how tall it must be if an average person is as tall as the white model person.
    2. Using a piece of recycled cardboard as the base, students gather a piece of wire and bend into a sweeping curve. Press 2 balls of Crayola® Model Magic into edges of the cardboard base and push the ends of the wire arch into those bases. Balance the wire to be steady. Roll additional Model Magic into a coil and pull apart about every inch or so; make at least 8 sections. Roll each section around the wire at a place to form a ball shape. Model Magic that is fresh from the pack will stick to itself. Dried Model Magic pieces can be glued together.
    3. When all pieces are spaced evenly, students refer to the photo of Mr. Puryear. Compare the height of the person to that of the arch. Encourage students to estimate about how tall people should be.
    4. Fold an index card in half and, using the fold as the top of the person’s head; draw a human figure. Keep the index folded, cut out the person. Make small folds where the feet are and apply a Crayola Glue Stick to the flat portion. Glue the person standing on the cardboard base. Repeat and add a few more people.
    5. Students are now ready to present their sculptural ideas to your parents!
  • Standards

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    MATH: Measure and estimate lengths in standard units.

    MATH: Represent and interpret data.

    MATH: Reason with shapes and their attributes.

    SCI: Develop a physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.

    VA: Creativity and innovative thinking are essential life skills that can be developed.

    VA: Artist & designers experiment with forms, structures, materials, concepts, media and art-making approaches.

    VA: Artists & designers balance experimentation and safety, freedom and responsibility while developing and creating artworks.

  • Adaptations

    Assign approximate numerical values to the height of the original maquette in the embassy photo. Challenge students to calculate the scale of Mr. Puryear’s sculpture. Now do the same with student-created sculptures. Do you have a similar proportion? Check your friends’ to see how close they came!

    Measure the outside area of the school. Mathematically figure out how tall Mr. Puryear’s sculpture would be using your teacher as the person’s height. What would a half-scale be like? Where else could you install your own arch?


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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