In this lesson, student artists learn about Mexican Alebrijje, then create their own by looking through magazines and collaging animals together.
Students will be able to:
understand that Mexican Alebrije are fantastical creatures mixed from a variety of different animals, both real and imaginary.
brainstorm and create their own mixed creatures through collage.
Students will be working independently.
Have materials set up in a way that is easy to pass out, see, and select from.
Handouts & Photocopies:
NOTE: Preferably, the magazines will be magazines with lots of animals in them (such as National Geographic). Alternately, visit a stock-image website (such as pixabay.com) and print out and photocopy a variety of animal samples for student artists to use.
10M, INSPIRATION IMAGE
LOOK AND DISCUSS AN ART PIECE THAT INTRODUCES SOME OF THE LESSON CONCEPTS
Project the inspiration image where students can see it. Give students a moment to study it silently, then begin a brief discussion with the phrase, “What can we find?”. Paraphrase what students say for the benefit of the class, being careful to remain neutral, then ask “What else can we find?”. Alternately, allow them to draw or write what they notice on a blank piece of paper or in a sketchbook.
- Alebrije bird sculpture, Pedro Linares. 1986.
- During the 1930s, Pedro Linares began using paper, cardboard and paper mache to craft large, vivid, ethereal creatures that no one had ever seen before. He called these Alebrijes. He received a lot of attention for them, and they grew famous throughout Mexico. Some very famous artists, including Frida Khalo, began commissioning Alebrijes by Linares. Copyright: By The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17131859
Note on using the information above: As your students participate in a conversation around this artwork, it may occasionally be helpful to provide them with additional or contextual information. This information can and should be imparted at the teacher’s discretion.
The point of this discussion time is to have students learn and add onto each other’s thoughts. By remaining neutral and simply repeating what students say you allow students to do the heavy mental lifting and also create an environment where there is no wrong answer, fostering creativity and mental risk-taking.
5M, INTRODUCTION VIDEO
WATCH THE INTRODUCTION VIDEO & CHECK FOR UNDERSTANDING
Check for understanding by asking, “Who was listening closely that can sum up what we are doing today?” Make sure that student artists can list all the steps and clarify anything that needs clarifying.
- Alebrijes are fantasy creatures made from different animals, imaginary as well as real.
- They are going to create an Alebrije by collaging together parts and pieces of different animals.
FOCUS ON ENGAGING STUDENTS THROUGH CREATIVE BRAINSTORMING AND DISCUSSION
The students work independently on their work as the teacher circulates. Foster strong work habits by commenting on student artists who are focused on their work as well as student artist who seems be pushing themselves to try new things.
This should be a time for student artists to have fun and become engaged with the project. As the teacher circulates, they should engage the students in imaginative play about their creatures through encouraging them to come up with names, asking them where their creatures would live, etc. Consider further engaging the class by cleaning up a few minutes early so more student artists can present their creatures.
STUDENTS PRESENT WORKS IN PROGRESS AND DISCUSS THE ARTISTIC DECISIONS THAT THEY MADE
Sharing should work as follows:
- Student stands by their work. A teacher should hold it, or place it on an easel.
- The student presents their work, answering What they made, How they made it, and Why they made the decisions that they did. When they are done they ask, “Any comments or questions?” and can take responses from the audience.
- A note on responses: it is o.k. if an audience member questions or wants clarification from the artist. It is also o.k. if an audience member makes suggestions. But it must be done in a kind, thoughtful, and respectful way.
- Always end the conversation by asking the class to give the artist a compliment.
Depending on the teacher’s style of classroom management, it might be helpful to only choose and train a few kids to clean. The rest of the class can be busy with the presentation. Make sure to train these helpers well in advance so that you aren’t left with a messy room.
Clean-up times will vary with materials; get to know your class and allow 5-10 minutes depending on how efficient they are and whether or not the material was messy.
Students may choose animal parts that are vastly different sizes. To amend this, you can encourage students to go through the magazines and roughly cut out the animals they are interested in, and then go back and put together ones that are approximately the same size.It is okay if they want to use part of people or objects. However, try to encourage them to use at least one part that is a living being if they incorporate objects.
Younger students may have some trouble cutting accurately. Encourage them to do as well as they can; this lesson is supposed to be fun, and there is no need for students to be creating ‘finished’ work. Tell frustrated students it’s about idea gathering and brainstorming, not crafting a perfect piece.
If a student finishes one creature, have them continue to create additional creatures.
This project is free to access, but after the first lesson, you will have to create a free account and enroll in the course. After you create an account and enroll, the project can be accessed from the ‘artroom’ tab at the top of the page.