Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Frank Gehry for Frank and Gary, 7th grade upcyclers

I am lucky enough to be able to write curriculum for the Beaverton, Oregon Art Literacy program which teaches art history to elementary and middle school students which then leads them in a art project connected to the artist or culture they learned about. Classes are taught by parent volunteers and it is one of the only ways children are exposed to art history in public school anymore.

The lesson I just wrote is about the architect Frank Gehry.

Gehry may be the most celebrated "starchitect" alive today. He's most well known for large buildings like his "Fred and Ginger" dancing building in Prague.....

....which was modeled after the dancing forms of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

But his work I like the best are the private residences he designed which mixed modern industrial materials with natural materials. Note the contrast between the glassy tiles and the natural wooden beams in this California beach house.

This is Gehry's own private residence that he deconstructed by adding steel walls, chain link fencing, concrete slab steps and glass skylights to the original structure. You can still see the original little pink stucco house peeking out from the design.

For the art project, middle schoolers are given a choice of materials from the recycling bin and the backyard to design a small model of a deconstructed doghouse, camping hut, bike shelter, or other small structure. This solar heated camping hut model uses cardboard, aluminum foil, bubble wrap, clear plastic salad containers, staples and clear packing tape, as well as some round stones. 

The hut has working front doors modeled on a flower.

One of the best things about this project is the reuse of recyclable materials and items from nature, which costs the school and Art Literacy Program almost nothing since volunteers bring them in. The clear tape, staples and perhaps the aluminum foil are the only items that need to be purchased. Creating new, useful or beautiful things out of old items that might have been discarded is called upcycling.

Think there might be an important lesson for middle schoolers and all of us from Frank Gehry and the ways things can be upcycled? I think so.....that's one reason I continue to work with old and vintage things to remake them into new things that can continue to be treasured.
 Happy Earth Day on Friday!

For a fresh etsy shop called Gloomstopper Studios that features great earrings upcycled from of the inner tubes of bicycle tires, go here:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/Gloomstopper

Geary photos from Scholastic Art Magazine, April/May 2006, Vol. 36 No. 6
Used for educational purposes
Gloomstopper earring photo used by permission from artist

1 comment:

  1. It took me a bit to realize what Gehry and upcycling had to do with each other until I realized it was his house. So confused because when I think Gehry I think of curvy titanium. So, I'm not sure how I feel about this.



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