The seventh and eighth grade art experience is a culmination of all the experiences students have had through the previous grades. Students have been exposed to a series of lessons designed to increase their understanding of how meaning is conveyed through visual images and confidence in their ability to express their knowledge, feelings, and opinions. Through multiple art experiences students have gained competency with tools and materials and understand that artwork records history, documents the present, and expresses emotions and opinions. Students are encouraged to combine mark-making, images, words, and materials in meaningful ways.

In seventh and eighth grade, students understand that artwork can be powerful. These artists are investigating the processes and the materials to give form to their own voices. Art making is active and often intuitive, and includes reflection and discussion. Students that continue to be engaged in artistic experiences develop higher order thinking skills necessary for genuine understanding and authentic learning. These skills evolve through repeated opportunities for both meaningful production and patient discussion of the learning, the discovery, and the experience of creating as it happens. As students mature they develop a greater capacity to express clear imagery, a deeper appreciation of the unique and complex qualities of artistic forms, and a genuine understanding that a work of art can say many things at once. Artists create from personal identity and experiences, humor, passion, beliefs, and concerns.

As students are preparing for the high school experience, they are interested in knowing who they are, what they know, and what they can do. Using this awareness as a primary focus, the art curriculum engages seventh and eighth grade students in experiences that combine acquired craftsmanship, identified personal strengths and preferences, and the chance to create highly personal representations that give voice to these young artists.

-- excerpt from the Brookline Visual Arts Learning Expectations

Past Assignments:

Symbolic Self-Portraits:

Seventh graders began making symbolic self-portraits from corrugated cardboard by thinking about what a symbolic self-portrait might look like. They considered ways of using symbols (something that represents something else by association or resemblance, especially a material object used to represent something invisible) to represent parts of their personalities. They were told that their symbolic self-portrait could be abstract or representational, and that it should visually express information about their personality. Other requirements included that the design be three-dimensional, at least 18" in any one dimension, have at least one kinetic (moving) part, contain both subtractive (cut into the surface) and additive (added onto the surface) elements, and be able to balance on its own without being propped up.

First, students started brainstorming in their sketchbooks. They were asked to list their interests, goals, likes and dislikes, hobbies, and biographical information as a starting point. Symbols were chosen and then sketches of the final designs were made.

Students practiced using utility knives (box cutters), X-Acto knives, and steel t-pins safely. Next they learned ways of connecting two pieces of cardboard together at a right angle by applying glue along the seam and using t-pins to anchor the pieces. They learned how to curve cardboard pieces by scoring (making close together, shallow cuts through just the surface of the cardboard) and bending.

A student using an X-Acto knife and a safety mat

Kinetic elements were added by making a hinge or using brads to connect two pieces in a way that allowed one piece to spin. Ask a seventh grader to show you how it works!

Finishing touches and decorations were added using paint and wooden shapes. Hot glue was introduced to help hold the wooden pieces on to the sculptures.

Adding finishing touches with hot glue

Almost finished!

After each assignment, middle school students are asked to complete a self-assessment sheet.