We Learn: Polynesian Artwork

Attributions: 
by Rosalyn Payne

This year Cherry Creek students have been studying the art and culture of New Zealand, Australia, and various Polynesian islands. Here is a sampling of some their Oceania-themed art:

 

6th Tint Gradient Underwater Silhouettes. After learning about tints and shades, monochromatic color schemes, and negative and positive space in art, students painted a circular gradient by gradually adding increasing amounts of blue into white paint. Then, observing photos, they drew outlines and cut silhouettes of sea creatures to add to their blue gradient backgrounds.

 

6th Maori Taaniko-Style Weaving. Students observed traditional Maori woven garments from New Zealand. They created unique patterns on grid paper to plan weaving designs. Then they carefully transformed those ideas into paper weavings.

 

5th–6th Starry Sunset Skies (Aurora Australis). Students learned about the Aoraki Dark Sky Reserve in New Zealand, observed pictures of the Aurora Australis, and learned what causes this phenomenon. They practiced blending and layering watercolors, from lightest to darkest, using wet-on-wet techniques for the sky, then dry-on-wet to make mountain silhouettes. Finally, they masked the foreground and spattered on white tempera stars.

 

5th Airports and Airplanes. Students observed photos of airports around the world. They discussed the features and functions of airports. They each drew individual plans, then divided into collaborative engineering teams and negotiated to decide which ideas to incorporate, adapt, or expound in their group project. They worked together to build large airports from cardboard using a variety of attachment techniques. Finally, they sanded, assembled, and painted wooden airplanes with spinning propellers.

 

4th Maori Spiral Designs. Students learned the meanings of various Maori spiral symbols (koru, moana, hei-matau, mangopare, etc.), and looked at artworks by New Zealand artist Raewyn Harris. Then they created original designs using spirals and other Maori patterns.

 

4th Bubbles. Students observed photos of real bubbles, noticing how they reflect light. Then they drew bubbles with colored pencils on black paper, adding highlights and reflections.

 

3rd Floppy Fish. Students rubbed textures onto both sides of a colored paper, then folded and cut the paper to make a 3D fish sculpture.

 

3rd Surfboard Designs. Students practiced folding and cutting to produce symmetrical designs. Then they experimented with contrasting color schemes and balancing positive and negative space to create interesting layered designs that could be stencil-painted onto a surfboard.

 

2nd-3rd Coral Reef Habitats with Sea Turtles. After learning about coral reefs and examining an assortment of shells, sponges, and different types of corals, students observed images of diverse organisms living in coral reefs. They drew visual textures of various marine plants and corals, and added marine animals to their reef environments, overlapping elements to show depth. They colored the underwater scenes firmly with wax crayons and colored pencils, then added water with chalk pastel.

 

2nd–3rd Pop-Up Architecture. Students looked at an assortment of photos of very diverse house styles. They each individually chose three houses they thought were (1) most awesome, (2) strangest, and (3) where they would like to live. Then they took turns listening and talking with a partner about why they chose their selections. After their pair and share discussion, class members shared out insights they had learned from each other that might have made them see something differently or maybe change their mind. We discussed who might live in these different types of houses and why. We talked about similarities and differences, and about appreciating diversity. Then we learned to make folded street cards with pop-up houses.

 

1st Color-Mixing Comical Crocodiles. Students used basic shapes to draw a cute, comical crocodile. They painted first with yellow, then added blue to make green.

 

1st Tropical Fish Collages. After reading A Fishy Color Story and A Fishy Shape Story, students experimented with combining colors that contrast and compliment each other, then cut a variety of shapes for bodies, fins, tails, etc. to make colorful collage fish.