Archive for the ‘economical cultural production’ Category

I thought everyone knew about Instructables, but no one has posted about it yet, so I thought I’d put it on our blog. It’s a searchable collection of instructions for…lots of stuff!

Another great resource for tutorials on cool crafts is a blog called How About Orange.


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Little Dragon – Twice  (shadow puppets video)

How to make shadow puppets video

Puppet Uprising


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The Redeye posted a whole list of creative ways the periodic table has been reimagined. I loved the Periodic Table Printmaking Project and wanted to share it with all of you. What a great idea for a collaborative, interdisciplinary class project! One of my favorites is Neptunium:

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and some artist for inspiration!

why make inflatables?

-interesting study of space and form

-can be used as an intro to patterning if design/form is more specific

-materials are cheap and accessible

-kinetic sculpture is awesome

-can be a fun collaborative/team exercise

Some Artists that Use inflatable techniques in their work =

Michael Rakowitz :::

(philanthropist / artist / architect)

Artist based in Chicago and New York City. In 1998 he initiated paraSite, an ongoing project – custom builds inflatable shelters for homeless people that attach to the exterior outtake vents of a building’s heating, ventilation, or air conditioning system


Joshua Allen Harris :::

Created New York street art in the form animals – made out of shopping bags – positioned on subway street grates – cause them to periodically inflate and animate

LINK on how to make specific Shapes- Stuffed Animals become Inflatables – A Patterning Exercise

Materials for project :

Plastic Garbage Bags


Packing Tape

A powerful fan (if working indoors) box fans work well


1) Cut garbage bags into flat pattern piece

2) Join pieces along the edges with packing tape – creating a seam without tears or holes for air to escape

3) Continue connecting bags until desired size/form is achieved

**remember you will want to have an attachment to some air source to inflate the bags

4) Attach tube/small opening in sculpture to a continuous air source (fans/vents etc)  –  turn on and watch it grow!

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“Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes” by
-A story about a young girl who fell ill from the after math of the atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima. In hopes to fight the battle against Leukemia, she embarks on a mission to create 1000 paper cranes to be granted a wish, the wish to live.

Orizuru: Loosely translated as “paper crane”
Ori: to fold
kami: paper

Artist: Satoshi Kamiya
Title: Ryujin 3.5

History of Japanese Origami
-The origins of Origami in 1962 derived it’s name during the Showa period. However, during the Edo period, pertaining to certain texts found during this era, the act of manipulating paper were seen as being already prevalent. “Kirigami” (paper cutting) and “Kumigami (paper assembly) are two ways in which paper manipulation became a key component in Japanese culture, some claim this to be true for particular religious practices or festivities.

Artist: James R. Ford

Artist: James Roper
Title: Devotion (10,000 origami flowers)

Artist: Hellenwhite
Title: “Wild Garden”

Artist: DIOR

Lesson plan ideas:
1. Folding in memory of a sick/dead individual
2. The power of numbers
3. Landscape paper sculptures
4. War + People

Origami Book:
“Everything Origami” by Matthew Gardiner

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One of my greatest interests is working with a specific material and using its characteristics, such as the objects popular associations, physical qualities, or structural integrates to help define a sculpture or installation.  While in my undergrad, I spend much time talking with my professor, Chris Lavery, and fellow students during critiques about how to use a material to your advantage.  In art making, especially sculpture and installation where you can use pretty much anything, the materials you choose can easily make or break your work.  In other words, the materials bring a lot of meaning that cannot go unconsidered because it greatly influences the meaning of your piece. With that said, this presentation is about looking at a specific material, the book, and exploring how this object can be worked with, against, and surprisingly transformed.

Working WITH a Material

artists:  Brian Dettmer, Maya Lin

organic chemistry

Organic Chemistry, 2008

This first image titled Organic Chemistry is the work by  Chicago born artist Brian Dettmer.  He currently lives and works in Atlanta and received his BA in Art and Design/Art History from Columbia College right here in Chicago.  Dettmer is known for working with objects that are slowly becoming less significant in our ever-evolving world.  He describes the used books and old cassette tapes he uses as artifacts of the pre-digital technology era, which gives us a glimpse into how these once popular objects are slowly moving into the background while digital technology continues to advance.  Many people refer to Dettmer as an archaeologist of contemporary objects, as a surgeon, or dissector of the disused and an excavator of objects near extinction.
Picture 2

title unknown

Others view Dettmer’s excavations as creating new relationships and meanings from the alteration of text and image, forcing us to respond with our own loaded impressions and interpretations of books.  Since he keeps the books recognizable, the viewer can respond from their own positions, and provoke feelings and memories they have with old  books.

Picture 3

Webster’s New Inter Diction

Dettmer uses xacto knives, tweezers, surgical clamps, needle-nose pliers, straight-edges and even pieces of metal that can bend into shapes while creating his sculptures.  Can you see why people are referring to him as a surgical master?  He also uses glue to help harden the outer surface enabling more concise and easier carving.  As he carves  deeper into a piece, he continues to add glue to preserve the work he has already done.  The process is rigorous and time-consuming, but produces a result that is well worth the time invested.

Dettmer’s objective while he is working on a piece  is to keep the inherent qualities of the items intact, while highlighting specific aspects of the book.  This can be seen in the first image, Organic chemistry, where he deliberately carves out certain areas to highlight the content of the book.  He often creates complex compositions and layers to help communicate what the books is all about.  To put it simply, he is working WITH the book.

Picture 4

Systematic Landscapes

Another artist that is a great example of working with the book is Maya Lin.   A trained artist and architect, she is most known for her Vietnam Veterans Memorial to built Washington, D.C. but has also created large installations, parks, monuments, and sculptures that explore  how the individual can become part of the landscape.  Above is an image  showing how she has used carving into a topographic book as research for her projects.  Lin has followed the contours of the topographic lines, transforming the 2D version of a mountain into the 3rd dimension. You  can check her out on the ART21 website.

Working AGAINST a Material?

When it comes to  sculpture, I often think about problem solving because the artist has the responsiblity to consider the materials being used and come up with ways to either enhance, hinder, or transform the material’s meaning with a purpose in mind.   Asking the question, What does it mean to work against a material? can be a fun excercise and challenge for students.  This question has the potential to open up the art making process and act as an oppurtunity to explore the possibilities of a material.  Below is another piece by Brian Dettmer.  I look at this piece and wonder about  his intentions.  The treatment of the books has led me to think about going against the properties of the book in order to create specific message.  What do you think?

Picture 5

Brian Dettmer, title unknown


Transforming a found object can be a difficult task since the goal is to surpass the objects original meaning in order to create something completely new.  I have not been able to accomplish this endeavor myself and have seen many artists successfully and unsuccessfully work with transforming everyday objects.  I have great appreciation for pieces that have moved beyond its original form and have come to possess a certain level of mystery.  I love to approach an art piece to be engaged in its story instead of being distracted by what it was made out of.  Below are some works that in my view are some great examples of transformation.  Enjoy.

Picture 6Brian Dettmer, Mound 1, 2008

Picture 7

Brian Dettmer, title unknown

Picture 8

Georgia Russell, title unknown

Georgia Russell is a Scottish artist who also uses a xacto knife to create her works. She cuts into books, music scores, maps, newspapers, currency, and photographs to create her incredibly intricate pieces.  They are often encased into plastic or glass containers, bringing a hint of scientific inquiry to her work.  Her work has also been perceived as an exploration of the relationship between the right and left hemisphere of the brain or how time often causes the dissipation of memories.  I look forward to learning more about his artist.

Picture 9

The Story of Art iii 2009

Below are two more images I want to show as examples of transforming an object.  These last two pieces by Brian Dettmer, the featured artist in this presentation, are not made out of books, but of old cassette tapes.  I may have chosen these pieces due to my recent fascination with antler and animal skulls, but I also believe these works to be great examples of using an object’s physical characteristics over its original form.  He has cleverly used a symbol of retro, pop culture art for his own purposes.  The cassette tape’s charged meaning does not over take the fact that this piece is inherently an animal skull.  The choice of materials and form are appropriate for each other, creating a solid piece with many layers of meaning.  I think Brian Dettmer is my new hero.

Picture 10

Ram skull, 2007, altered cassette tapes

Picture 11

title unknown

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I first came across this website back in Spring 2008 as part of my Thesis research topic. I liked the the site more after doing observations at Chicago Academy HS because one of the students was a big time young graffiti Artist. The art teacher acknowledge his mastery by giving him space to do or use his art to express himself in some of his class projects.

Who? And when?


Artcrimes is an online was started back in May 1994 by Susan Farrell with images from Prague and Atlanta, she went public later that year in September. From then until 2005 Susan worked with a professional photographer, Brett Webb who help to things off the ground.

Giving Props/Recognition to Artists from the Fringes:

Street graffiti

This is street art, the artists may not all be from fine arts schools or colleges and so forth( this is based on this information I have gathered from researching for this presentation). Bringing elements of this art into the school would be a way to give recognition to Graffiti Artists also.

Legal Issues?


In most cities its illegal to do graffiti, but Susan felt that it was necessary to find spaces/wall for it because it is a fascinating art from. I share on that idea because this is another form of Art, but since it is from the “fringes” its has not been accepted by the mainstream culture.

. . . but what else is possible with this Art form?

A direct talk about Cultural IDs



Talking about the idea of “deference” when it comes to children of immigrants, D. A. Yon, in his book “Elusive Culture”, refers to the fact that these kids are from two worlds, one ancestral the other the current status as young Americans whose parents are immigrants. This art work gives room for exploring ideas about their views and experiences with cultural identity (ethnicity, race, gender, cultural) and ideas about Home.

SocioPolitical Conversations though Art-making:


Le lec


This art from is also rich with interpretations of the world as the artists see it, so this site can also help in allowing students to talk about their interpretations of society, how they view for example, the school. . . This is right up there with spoken work poetry.

The ongoing project …


The project is dependant on volunteer efforts and collaborations. It has now become an international network of graffiti artists, the work is divided into “Crews” or artists clubs. The artists support this cite out of pocket and through donations and other sales such as T-shirts and Murals, tattoos and other forms of art.

The artists names and emails of the artists are on the site along with their work. . . . Go to:


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