Folk Art Creatures - Natural History Museum of Los Angeles Art...art around the world. Fantasy creatures have also played a ... What are characters like in these kinds of ... 7 Folk Art Creatures Lesson Title Dragon, ...
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Folk Art Creatures Grades 6-8
From ancient history to modern day, animals have been depicted in art around the world.
Fantasy creatures have also played a significant role in both art and literature, and they continue to do so today.
After exploring a variety of creatures from mythology, students will conceptualize their own fantasy creature and write a short narrative about it (either as an origin story or as a folk tale/legend/myth).
Students will make concept sketches and build their creatures, creating armature-based papier-mch three-dimensional sculptures.
In one classroom session before visiting the Museum, brainstorm/share ideas about fantasy creatures. Introduce or review vocabulary words related to the lesson.
During a trip to the Museum (or online), explore the fantastical creatures of the Grandes Maestros exhibit. Have students to consider what may have inspired the artists to create these works. What parts of the sculptures are realistic? What parts show fantasy?
Back in the classroom, students will design their own fantasy creature and write a short descriptive narrative or origin story for it.
Visual Art California Standards 6.2.4 -Create increasingly complex original works of art reflecting
personal choices and increased technical skill. 7.2.5 -Interpret reality and fantasy in original two-dimensional and three-
dimensional works of art. 8.2.2 -Design and create maquettes for three-dimensional sculptures. 8.2.6 -Design and create both additive and subtractive sculptures.
Duration Pre-Visit: 20-30 minutes
Visit: 20-30 minues
Post-Visit: 4-5 hour-long class sessions (modify as
Location Special Exhibits Hall
Supplies Reference materials
books, images, stories about animals (real
Pencil & paper
Newspapers a lot!
Liquid starch or papier
Bowls (for starch one
per group of students)
Cardboard or paper towel rolls (optional
Acrylic or tempera
Mixing palettes (can use aluminum foil or
Space for work to dry
Vocabulary Myth / Mythological Fantasy Narrative Origin Armature 3-D Sculpture Papier-
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Visual Art National Standards (2013) VA:Cr2.1.6aDemonstrate openness in trying new ideas, materials, methods, and approaches in
making works of art and design.
VA:Cr2.1.7aDemonstrate persistence in developing skills with various materials, methods, and approaches in creating works of art or design.
VA:Cr2.1.8aDemonstrate willingness to experiment, innovate, and take risks to pursue ideas, forms, and meanings that emerge in the process of artmaking or designing.
English Language Arts - CCSS 6-12th Writing StandardsAnchor Standard 3: narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or
events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
en details, and well-structured event sequences.
Artists in the Linares family from Mexico City create fantastical animals called alebrijes, which originated based on the feverish dreams of grandfather Pedro Linares. They are brightly colored papier-mch figures with tails, horns, wings, sharp teeth, and large eyes. Oaxacan artists, such as Manuel Jimenez Ramirez and Jacobo ngeles Ojeda, also incorporate the world of fantasy in their wood-carved animals by using bright colors and imaginative patterns.
References & Resources
Rooster, by Leonardo Linares Vargas, 2001, Wire and papier-mache, modeled and polychromed, from
Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico (see page 9 for image)
Dragon, Leonardo Linares Vargas, 2001, Wire and papier-mache, modeled and polychromed, from
Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico (see page 7 for image)
Jaguar by Jacobo ngeles Ojeda, 2011, Carved and polychromed wood, from San Martin Tilcajete,
Ocotln de Morelos, Oaxaca, Mexico (see page 5 for image)
Feline by Manuel Jimnez Ramrez, 2001, Carved and polychromed wood, from San Antonio Arrazola,
Santa Cruz Xoxocotln, Oaxaca, Mexico (see page 8 for image)
Rabbitnahual (alter ego), by Manuel Jimnez Ramrez, 1999, Carved and Polychromed wood, from San
Antonio Arrazola, Santa Cruz Xoxocotln, Oaxaca, Mexico (see page 6 for image)
Words, Words, Words: Folk Art TerminologyWhy It (Still) Matters, Joan M. Benedetti. Art
Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America, Vol 19, No.1 (Spring 2000), pp.
VIDEOS: How to Make Paper Mache Alebrijes
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Ask students to brainstorm in small groups what they know about fantasy creatures. Engage students in a discussion about the following ideas: myths/folk tales/legends, origin stories, narratives. What have students heard of/read about? After they have brainstormed ideas in small groups, chart ideas as a whole class. What are characters like in these kinds of narrativesare they real? Fantasy? Some combination of the two? Introduce the term folk art and provide a brief overview of the various types of folk art that can be seen in the Grandes Maestros exhibit at NHM, specifically including works by the Linares family and Manuel Jimenez Ramirez.
While viewing the selected works in the exhibit (or online), ask students to consider what may have inspired these artists to create their work. What parts of the sculptures are realistic? What parts show fantasy? Have students brainstorm origin stories for these creatures and share them in small groups. Also ask students to consider the methods both artists utilized in creating their sculptures. What materials and tools might have been used? If there is time, visit the North American and African Mammal Halls in the Museum and take time to sketch some inspiration animals, or parts of animals: Grizzly heads, bison hooves, wolf bodies, or lions manes.
Ask students to reflect on the works they saw in the exhibit and to consider what type of fantastical creature they might like to make. Explain that they might want to combine several realistic animals together, or they may want to think of attributes to add to animals that might change them (i.e. adding wings to an animal that doesnt usually fly). Refer to the step-by-step plan under Activity for details of this project.
Variations & Extensions
Alternative materials may be used in place of papier-mch: wire, pipe cleaners, paper, cardstock, clay, or Crayola Model Magic. If time is limited, the 3-D portion of this lesson could be eliminated, and the focus could be on the written narrative and illustrated creatures instead.
Provide students with a variety of resources to look at during the initial stages of this project - photographs, illustrations, artists renderings, etc. of both real/realistic and fantasy/mythological creatures.
Demonstrate various ways to combine different animal parts to make a new creature perhaps join
the head of one animal, the body of another, and the legs of a third to make a new being. Ask students for other ways to change it (i.e. patterns, fur, claws, wings, tails, shapes of ears, etc.)
Have students make several sketches until they have one concept they want to use. Then ask them to
brainstorm ideas for a short narrative about their new creature. It can be an origin story of how the creature came to be (if writing from a mythological view), or it can be a narrative piece
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describing the animals features. Because this is still part of the initial planning process, details do not have to be finalized yet; in fact, they may change as students make decisions during the artmaking process.
For the next phase, demonstrate how to build an armature, or skeleton, for a 3-D fantasy creature. (See VIDEOS in Resources.) Students may use cardboard, paper towel rolls, or newspapers rolled and taped in the desired forms. When the armatures are complete, have students cover them completely with the papier-mch technique, using newspaper strips and liquid starch (or paste mixture). When finished, armatures should have at least 2 to 3 layers (minimum) of papier-mch for strength. They will need a day or two to dry completely.
When ready, students will paint a solid color over the entire sculpture as a base color to cover the
newspaper. After it is dry (usually one day), details can be added based on students narrative brainstorming. Smaller paintbrushes are best for details. Students may add finishing touches (sequins, feathers, yarn, etc.) if they bring them to class.
Upon completion of the alebrijes, ask students to reflect on their initial narratives, making any necessary revisions based on the final outcome of their project. The written component should include specific details so that anyone reading the narrative would be able to match the description to the finished artwork.
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Jaguar by Jacobo ngeles Ojeda, 2011, Carved and polychromed wood, from
San Martin Tilcajete, Ocotln de Morelos, Oaxaca, Mexico
6 Folk Art Creatures
Rabbitnahual (alter ego), by Manuel Jimnez Ramrez, 1999, Carved and
Polychromed wood, from San Antonio Arrazola, Santa Cruz Xoxocotln,
7 Folk Art Creatures
Dragon, Leonardo Linares Vargas, 2001, Wire and papier-mache, modeled and
polychromed, from Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico
8 Folk Art Creatures
Feline by Manuel Jimnez Ramrez, 2001, Carved and polychromed wood,
from San Antonio Arrazola, Santa Cruz Xoxocotln, Oaxaca, Mexico
9 Folk Art Creatures
Rooster, by Leonardo Linares Vargas, 2001, Wire and papier-mache, modeled
and polychromed, from Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico