In my children’s literature class I like to introduce different frameworks for our weekly book discussions. Some weeks we consider books through a lens of readers’ advisory service. Sometimes we think about popularity or esoterica. Sometimes we think about separating our personal responses from our professional ones. A week or so ago we engaged in a creative activity as we undertook our discussions. The books on the table were biographies, and the activity was one a recycling craft. It’s an activity I have connected to different books, in different ways. This time around we had a couple of biographies of artists, and we thought about it as an extension of those tests.
Here’s how it works:
I have a big blown-up line drawing of the globe broken down onto 12 pieces of letter-sized paper which tile together, four-across and three-high, to form a complete image. Each page has markings indicating which parts of the image are air, which are land, and which are water. Then we all fill in the blanks, using whatever we like. I put out a bunch of scissors and glue sticks and old magazines, posters, catalogs, and other paper goods (books that have been withdrawn for condition might be great!), markers and pens, rubber stamps and ink pads, old stickers, felt remnants, leftover foam shapes, etc. The whole idea is that we use or reuse stuff that’s already around, instead of buying lots of stuff special.
And when the individual pieces are done, we assemble them, and magic happens.
To begin with, the assemblies are beautiful. Every time. There’s something about the juxtapositions of all of the different approaches that tickles me no end.
There are metaphorical resonances, too, that are really powerful. The finished product is identifiable as our planet, and as we look at it we understand, deeply, that its beauty comes from its diversity and authenticity. It’s almost as if the planet is only whole when each of us does our part. And then there’s the transformation of what might be considered waste into communicative artwork. It’s just really good.
Here’s a picture of the one we made this semester, and I’ve pasted below a link to the pdf template, in case you’d like to try it yourself!