Step one: Ask students to research the life and accomplishments of famous artists such as Salvador Dali, Georgia O’Keeffe, Vincent van Gogh, Maya Lin, Leonardo da Vinci and Pablo Picasso, among others.
Step two: Add chicken wire, paper strips, glue, cardboard, duct tape and acrylic paint.
What do you get?
The Big Head Art Project in which gifted visual arts students at Virginia Beach Middle School (VBMS) created larger-than-life artist heads to wear and then share their research with peers.
“We talked about the big head parades in Spain and Germany and the reason why the art is so big,” said Jessica Provow, art teacher. “It’s to have people notice them and really think about what’s going on.”
You can’t help but notice the walking and talking art in VBMS.
“We talked about performance art and being able to hear and having a mouth area to speak,” said art teacher Leah Kruger. “Some were more successful with that than others.”
The students acknowledged there were challenges to completing the sculptures.
“We forgot parts,” said seventh-grader Ellie Calkin, whose group studied and created Salvador Dali. “We forgot the ears at one point, and we said, ‘Oh right, ears.’ So we had to make all that, but I feel like it came together in the end.”
Calkin explained how she and her group members incorporated their research into Dali’s appearance.
“You know how he has the melting clock picture? We put clocks on his mustache to resemble one of his most famous pieces of art,” she said.
Provow noted most groups added extra details or made little props.
The representation of Vincent Van Gogh is missing a piece of one ear and the head of Deborah Butterfield is covered in sticks to represent her use of stray wood in sculptures.
Provow and Kruger decided to extend their students’ research and artwork to a broader audience.
“We’re filming them as they perform their plays and we’re going to show them to the entire school on the announcements,” explained Provow. “Then the entire school, during Youth Art Month, gets a taste of art and art history.”
While the big sculptures have made a bold statement for all to see, the creation process left a lasting impression on the student artists as well.
“I liked working together and having a bunch of people’s perspectives,” reflected Calkin. “You have all these different ideas going into one thing and it makes it 10 times better.”