12.09.2010

Boredom.

Most of the time, the art curriculum stays the same for most of the year and I spend time repeating the same project across a grade level.  If you're a student, you never know because the project is always new to YOU.  However, I start to get bored after awhile.  It's not that the project isn't fun, I've just seen it way too many times! 

So, when it comes to displaying art, I have to be careful that my displays don't start to look like "the same thing, over and over" either.  I switch it up.  I have a few things that I do that I'd like to share, because it can help other teachers, or if you're a student, maybe you can use these ideas for decorating your spaces (like your room) or for making interesting school presentations!

Mrs. Leban's Tips for Non-Boring Displays:
  • Have an interesting title.  Maybe the choice of words is interesting, or it's how you visually present it that's interesting.  I switch things up: sometimes I print it out on the computer, use a different font, use a different color paper - or don't print it out at all!  Sometimes I draw it, sometimes I cut each letter out of paper... you get the idea.
  • Backgrounds.  Make that interesting too.  I have a bunch of old (donated) discontinued wallpaper that makes a great background for bulletin boards.  I also painted the cork on the bulletin boards black, and sometimes I make the background striped or checkerboard:
(Find out more about this project here and here.)
  • Consider matting/framing each work of art in the display.  Sometimes its as simple as stapling a bigger piece of construction paper behind each work of art.  Make sure it's not the same color as the background if you do this, though.
  • Unusual objects and 3-dimensional details: What can you add to a display that's unexpected and will make people look twice?  Once I used yarn to "sew" borders between each artwork so the bulletin board looked like one big quilt.  Do you have any interesting paper, like foil or holographic stock?  What kind of 3-dimensional details can you add?  Once I made a 3-D "film reel" out of cardboard for a display about student films.
  • Do you have access to an electrical outlet?  If you do, congratulations!  Nothing attracts peoples eyes like a good string of twinkle lights.  I have an electrical outlet in my main display case outside the office, so I regularly switch out string lights.  I also have a small digital photo frame on a timer to run a slideshow of students working in the art room and student work.  Even when the display itself is empty there's something to see on the frame.
  • Hang photos of students working on the project that's being displayed.  This helps people who haven't created the project understand how it was done.  Plus, I find that students like to look at pictures of each other and find their friends in group photos.
  • Hang or include materials and equipment that you've used to create the work.  A display case of printmaking looks cool if you include a carved plate, a tube of ink, a brayer, and some carving tools.  People once again gain a greater understanding of how the work was done.
  • Vary your display locations.  Because I repeat projects, I won't put one group of hand sculptures in a case right after another class' sculptures have come out.  If you do that, people sometimes don't even realize the work is new.  If you move work to another location, it looks fresher and people notice.
  • Use negative space well.  I'd rather space out the artwork so it's pleasant to look at instead of cramming all the work on one bulletin board (if I can help it).  Sometimes I put up one main display, and then the overflow goes to a smaller board or case in another spot.
  • Include a description of the project, at least the first time it goes up for the year, so people can read about the skills and concepts involved in the project.  Many people don't realize how smart art class is, so they need help - tell them!
  • Have fun with your displays.  Some of my favorites have been hanging lanterns in the main office and library, large tape sculptures that sat in various locations throughout the school, or the typography display where I spent hours crumpling pages from books to make a really awesome textural background... yeah, that one might've been a little overboard, but it looked great!
Here are a few more examples of how to vary displays:


Above: Student portraits hanging on a strip along the basement hallway.  Pretty standard.  They look good, but...


...how about this version?  That's some of my old wallpaper background (I love this pattern) and each artwork is stapled on top of a paper "frame" I cut from larger construction paper.  Then, I took famous art quotes and pasted them into speech bubbles which were then printed and cut out.  It looks like the self-portraits are talking!

To see more about this self-portrait project, view our Artsonia Gallery.
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