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[teacherartexchange] Edible Clay - health and art questions


From: Marvin Bartel (marvinpb_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Mon May 16 2005 - 08:42:17 PDT

Because of the sugar and fat content, maybe it should be called
Moldable Candy instead of Edible Clay.

Real clay is edible in many cultures. In some cases it is a
nutritional supplement with possible health benefits.

In Peru certain toxic potatoes can be used if clay is consumed with them.

Health and Safety issues:
Before eating real clay in some cultures it is heated hot enough to
kill the bacteria and parasites that may be living in it. It is not
fired, just sterilized. This retains the mineral and detoxification
benefits. Some feel it also cleans the system. It may be a simple
way to prevent bowel cancer by the same logic as a high fibre diet.

Inappropriate eating of clay becomes a health problem for some people.

In regard to Moldable Candy, how do I rationalize an art lesson that
might promote poor nutritional and dental health by encouraging a
sweet tooth habit in a culture that suffers significant poor health
effects from obesity, diabetes, hyperactivity, etc.

Philosophical questions:
What are we saying when we use food as art material in a world where
many children suffer from a lack of food? I often participate in the
Mennonite Relief Sale which is a huge event in our community every
September. Here we enjoy artfully preparing, selling, and eating way
too much tasty and often sinfully unhealthy ethnic foods. But alas,
we tell ourselves it is okay because ironically all the proceeds from
the event go to world relief projects sponsored by MCC (Mennonite
Central Committee). MCC sponsors many projects throughout the world
to help developing societies become self-sustaining in food
production, health care, education, etc. Some is used for emergency
food distribution to prevent starvation.

Food is art. Everyday meals taste better with the flavor of
aesthetics. Cooking is an art for taste buds, olfactory sense, and
the eyes. We love to eat at a table with beautifully designed and
presented nutritional food presented on artfully designed dinnerware
and serving pieces. Artful food in every culture helps mark and
celebrate many important events. It provides a wonderful setting
for the building and maintaining of good relationships. This may
suggest one rationale for an appropriate thematic lesson for moldable
candy clay to be used as a way to help celebrate a special event in
the art class.

Good food - Bad food as bait to motivate
Some of my students have said their favorite lesson allowed them to
eat the subject matter. I often start a lesson with the taste and
aroma of a green sweet/tart/crisp apple or big juicy sweet purple
grapes. Multi-sensory motivation has been shown by research to
increase student involvement. The artwork is better as a result of
smell, taste, touch, and auditory motivation. After smelling it,
tasting it, and listening to the crunch, we visually examine the
fruit to when practicing a drawing and/or painting method using the
remaining fruit as subject matter. We use it to learn, line, shape,
form, color, shading, texture, highlighting, shading, stippling
(pointalism), crosshatching, back lighting, cubism, etc. At the end
of the lesson the students consume the remainder of the small still
life they have each been studying.

Where did I get these ideas?
My own inspiration for food motivation came in part from, Phil
Rueschhoff, one of my art education professors. Dr. Rueschhoff told
us that his professor, Viktor Lowenfeld, was called the hard candy
art teacher by those who knew him well. Dr. Lowenfeld had the
practice of carrying a bag of hard candy in his pocket. He
distributed it to young children prior to their art lesson. After
the lesson, he assessed the work to see how many had added teeth to
the faces in their work.


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