I love making cultural connections in my art room! One of the holidays I love to bring attention to is Dia De Los Muertos. Students start to see decorations of sugar skulls around this time of year but not everyone knows why. This beautiful tradition in Mexican culture honors the lives of their loved ones who have passed away with a celebration. Altars are created in their honor. Food, costumes and dance are utilized in the tradition as well. While I personally do not celebrate this tradition, I find it to be really beautiful and special. It's a great way to discuss themes of life and death with younger students, to set them up for discussions about future works they will encounter in art history (life and death=huge themes throughout art history!).
With this project, technology is incorporated. Students take a digital photo of themselves first. They need to utilize good lighting, a facial expression and use of a filter to express something about themselves in their portrait. They utilized apps like Artisto on the iPad, or Prisma on their smartphone. Some used Snapseed to filter their work further or just the regular filters on the iPad/iphone photos app.
Students decide how they want to cut their portrait, because one part of their portrait will be a skull anatomy drawing. Once they've determined what they want to do, they cut it out and paste it on their drawing paper. They watch a video about how to set up the proportions of their skull based on their portrait photo. They also have a shading tutorial video that they can watch too. Demonstrations are made for them via the videos. I also pause the videos to further explain tips.
Once the drawing is done, it's cut out and pasted on larger paper where students decide where to place it. They create designs inspired by Mexican Folk art, Dia De Los Muertos motifs found in sugar skulls, papel picado, etc. They also look up patterns and designs associated with their cultures.
The result is a mixed media art work that incorporates balance as a compositional element. I love this project because it utilizes drawing and shading, along with an extension of positive/negative space and abstract designs from their previous project.
If you'd like to check out the how-to video for this project check it out here! The video starts after the portrait/skull drawing has already been created and fully shaded.