Students in seventh and eighth grade are undergoing intense, life-shifting experiences. Contradictions are the hallmark of this age group. Students vacillate between a hyper-awareness of their environment and a self-absorbed tuning out of their surroundings. They hunger for information and experience but do not want to appear too eager in the classroom, as the approval of peers is often more important than that of a teacher.

At this age, students can incorporate abstract concepts into their art production and into their thinking and discussion about art. They readily explore questions about the nature of art and the way art is received.

When looking at a work of art, students are able to:

  • expand their recognition of the elements and principles of design to include advanced and subtle concepts like form, balance, rhythm, etc.
  • understand what a picture plane is and how it relates to the composition.
  • recognize and name certain artists by looking at the style of their work.
  • speculate on the historical and cultural context surrounding works of art.
  • look for symbolism or hidden meaning.

Suggested Lessons

Goddesses Are Personifications Too!
Looking at Illuminated Manuscripts: Exploring an Illuminated Manuscript Page

Suggestions for Discussion
Students at this age are social and want to be treated as adults. Discussion in small groups will give them some autonomy. They are able to discuss how the elements and principles of design interact to create a composition. By focusing on nuances like value and movement, students will expand their understanding of the complexity of artistic composition. Students also enjoy discussions that solicit their opinion or personal response.

Suggestions for Art Production
You can introduce the concepts of realism and abstraction at this age. By blowing up a small section of a realistic image, students can explore an abstract image that is rooted in representation. Students at this age seek outlets for their individuality, and will enjoy experimenting with media and techniques. They should learn that the articulation of their objectives and process, and the presentation of finished works, are important parts of art production. Teach ways to mat, frame, and display works of art.

Two-dimensional production:
Experiments in representation and abstraction will be successful in all media. Students should have refined composition skills and be able to explore balance, asymmetry, and symmetry in both abstract and representational works. Teach refinement of a concept through multi-step projects. Preparatory sketches should be made before tackling a finished work. Self-portraiture has great appeal to this age group, as the question of identity is central to them.

Three-dimensional production:
Advanced processes can be explored at this age. These include throwing clay on a wheel, plaster molds, assemblages, mobiles, wire sculpture, as well as basic carpentry and furniture making.