Monday, January 17, 2011

Art class in Ulsan: drawing with wire

I wanted my students to create mobiles, inspired by Alexander Calder, but while I was putting together the lesson, problems kept cropping up. I remembered, as a kid, how frustrating mobiles were. The hanging parts would slide out of place and often the teacher gave too much direction.

As a teacher, who has told my students not to say, "I can't," I kept running into mental blocks concerning the mobiles. Not only, how would we keep the hanging parts from sliding out of place, but how would I allow my students freedom without them getting frustrated by the complexity of the project? Additionally, where would we hang them when finished? Question upon question piled up in my mind, so I got on google and looked up Alexander Calder.

I wanted to know more about his process, but instead, I came across his wire sculptures. Playful, interesting, and turning drawing into three dimensions, I realized this was the solution.

Alexander Calder, Cow, 1929.

Scrapping mobiles, I gathered images of Calder's wire sculptures for the students to look at and talk about before designing their own.

Alexander Calder, Elephant, 1928.

We talked about drawing with one continuous line. I encouraged them to consider if they wanted to make their audience laugh, cry, or get angry. Then they went to work, first sketching out their idea using one continuous line, and finally working in wire.

Vincent's Lion

Jacob's Rabbit with earring

Aidan's Dog

David's Cat

The project proved quite a challenge for small, impatient hands, but I love the end results, especially the addition of dung inspired by Calder himself.


  1. I love this Kim!!!! Great job!

  2. Did you make a wire sculpture? I think you may have found something that speaks to your soul! Keep up the good work! It is amazing that the kids managed so well with what might be considered an upper level project! Just goes to prove that people will perform at the level that is expected of them!

  3. I didn't make a sculpture because I didn't have enough wire!! Maybe I will buy some this weekend and post the results. This was definitely a challenge, but I think the students responded very well ... Yes, teaching art is something I love.

  4. The dung is a very nice addition to the sculptures! Lol I think I might try my wire sculpture skills out. The idea of one continuous line seems simple but difficult at the same time..