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my seventh graders just debated the animal art issue. as part of our
architecture unit, we use karl von frisch's book called animal architecture
to create ink drawings based on repeated units of animal created
structures. we then use the drawings as plans for building clay
sculptures. we all love this project!
some interesting points my students raised were that the same people who
say animals don't make art would be the ones who say quilts aren't art
(snobbery - fine art vs. craft) and who say children can't make art (!).
we talked about intentionality a lot, and control - jackson pollack was
mentioned; we studied and argued about him last unit. the consensus, if
you can call it that, was this if someone makes it (a person or animal) and
you think it is interesting or good to look at, its art, even if it wasn't
created with the intent of making art, but for something completely
different. one girl talked about how beautiful the trail of a snake in
sand is, another kid described seeing work tracks in dirt! we also looked
at an article from an old na'tl geo about bowerbirds. they decorate their
nests with stuff they find outside, and i do mean decorate! its
unbelievable! they make patterns and designs with colors and shapes...this
one bird decorated his nest with only blue objects - a plastic barrette, a
shotgun shell, string...then there was a picture of his "girlfriend" in the
nest with him, and she had blue eyes! we thought this was incredibly
romantic :D ! there is a really neat painting of this phenomenon by martin
heade, i think.