We were so happy to help Emily Simpson, the Art Teacher from Normal Part Magnet School, work on her Hubble Space Telescope Art Bike project together with her students! We cannot wait to work on even more projects with Emily and her amazing students! We had a great opportunity to ask Emily a few questions about her process.
1. What inspired you to make an Art Bike with your class?
While I think it is important for my students to learn about the classics, I also think it is imperative for them to learn about contemporary artists and art practices. On top of that, I try to give my students opportunities to be involved in the art community whether it be in Chattanooga or somewhere further away as well as opportunities to work together as a team. Building an art bike would give them the chance to learn about a contemporary art practice, the chance to be involved in the flourishing local arts scene, and a peek into the realm of collaboration.
2. What is the theme of your Art Bike, how did it come to fruition, and how did you work the creation of an Art Bike into your curriculum?
At Normal Park Museum Magnet, a lot of what our students do in their related arts classrooms is directly tied to what they're learning in their classrooms. This gives them multiple opportunities to explore as well as solidify their learning and understand it in a new and/or deeper way. With that being said, in the art room, the students create based on the visual arts curriculum as well as their classroom curriculum. Our projects come to fruition through many collaborative opportunities that we have with the grade level teams. Through much research and collaboration, we decided to tie in parts of their science curriculum. At the time they were covering inventions in space, weather, magnets, force and motion, and sound. Hence our choice of space, weather, and sound as our themes.
3. How have the kids responded to creating an art bike?
My 3rd grade students were so intrigued by the idea. Kate came to talk to our students about art bikes and there were so many "ooo's" and "ahh's" when they were shown videos of the bikes being ridden. I can't tell you how many times I heard,"Woah, Ms. Simpson! How did they do that?!" It really peaked their interest. They were EXTREMELY curious and wondered how we were going to make our bike and when. They immediately had so many ideas. As they were working, the students responded very well to the sculptural processes. Some of them had never used a hammer or needle nose pliers before, but met the challenge head-on and succeeded!
4. What has the process of creating your Art Bike been like?
As teachers, we try to plan as much as humanly possible to insure the success of our students and our success in the classroom. I try to think about each project from a lot of different angles. Where will the students hit a "bump in the road"? What parts will be challenging? What material will be best suited for that process? The list could go on and on. I like to have a plan that is bullet proof. Well, in the art room things can sometimes shift trajectory at a moment's notice. This definitely happened with the art bike. Not only did the students experience more trial and error, but I experienced that as well which was a little uncomfortable for me. I like to have a plan. But, that's one of the perks of art education - learning how to fail and learning how to problem solve immediately following. It was a real treat to come alongside the students and problem solve together.
The bike as a whole is being made to look like the Hubble Telescope. This decision came directly from some preliminary brainstorming and sketching sessions with my 3rd Grade Advanced Art students. If you have ever seen pictures of the Hubble telescope, there is a smooth section and a section with dimples in it. Some of the 3rd grade students hammered a large portion of a roll of aluminum flashing to add the same sort of texture seen on the outer layer of the telescope. Another class listened to a sound recording of a thunder clap and drew a visual representation of the sound in the form of a sound wave. The next day, another class came in and bent wire in the shape of the sound waves drawn by the previous class. There were also days when our main focus was solely cutting aluminum cans into 3 separate pieces in order for other classes to use them for mini satellites that would stick out from the art bike. One of the last things the students did was to spray paint the bike to look like outer space - specifically to represent one of the most well known composite pictures ever taken by the Hubble Telescope. Once the students created all of the "bits and pieces", it was then my turn to assemble, which means more problem solving, measuring, problem solving again, cutting and welding, which I love. I couldn't have done it without the help and expertise of the Art 120 crew. The bike is now in process of being assembled so that it can be ridden in the 2016 Art Car Parade!
5. What has been the best part of creating an Art Bike?
Pinpointing one favorite part is a real challenge. One of my most favorite moments, though, was seeing a student that isn't always so jazzed up about being in the art room stepping up and being a leader for the whole classroom. He ended up being one of the main problem solvers on how we would cut apart the aluminum cans and put them together to create the mini satellites. I loved seeing him so passionate about creating and teaching his classmates.
Posted on Fri, March 18, 2016
by Philip Stetson filed under