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When the general public thinks about how artwork is displayed, most picture a room with white walls, printed labels, and special spotlights. But, as art teachers, we have a lot of flexibility to get creative! Let’s open up the places that can serve as exhibition areas and start showing artwork where folks might not expect it.
I live in Seattle, which is a pretty rainy place, especially in the winter. A local company called Rainworks decided to find a way to bring joy to folks when the weather gets dreary. They developed a hydrophobic spray that allows people to create murals on concrete. The catch? The murals only show up when they get wet!
The hydrophobic spray, which is available on their website, repels water. This means that when wet, concrete treated with the spray retains its color, while the areas that are not sprayed darken. The spray works especially well with stencils.
Remember to keep the messages light and fun. The idea is that when the secret mural is revealed, it brings a bit of joy and light into someone’s otherwise rainy and damp day. Plus, you can share your Rainworks with the company on their website! A bonus is that the spray is safe for the environment and non-permanent; the coating takes a few months to a year to wear away.
In my experience, students spent a good amount of time coming up with clever rain-related puns and decided to place them in high-traffic areas around our school. This included the entrance to the school and along the sidewalks immediately outside the building.
Once the pieces were installed, word spread about the secret murals and the school was abuzz with excitement! Students looked forward to seeing them appear, and the artists themselves began hinting about some of the more obscure locations of work to their friends, igniting searches for the pieces. It’s a continued favorite project for my middle school art students.
If you’re looking for even more ways to spark your creativity, don’t miss the AOE course Creativity in Crisis. Among other things, you’ll discover nine principles necessary for developing a culture of creativity and innovation and create an action plan to personalize student learning and ignite their creativity!
One of my favorite projects that I do is titled “Positive Forces.” It’s a great interim activity for those early finishers. The goal of the project is for students to create a fun cartoon figure who shares a positive message or idea for the school. Students place the pieces in spaces around the school to spread positive energy to others.
In my experience, it’s nice to try to time the installation to coincide with exam periods to give students an extra boost. While I check the pieces to make sure they are school-appropriate, I let students place the artworks on their own. This method may or may not work for your school. But, I would encourage you to try it as it adds to the element of surprise. I often find that many of the pieces remain up around campus, continuing to spread some positive cheer to others long past the conclusion of the class.
This project could also be paired with lessons on guerilla art and guerilla marketing to frame the extension of artworks outside the walls of the gallery and into unexpected spaces in the world.
Both of these projects bring a bit of joy to folks when they least expect it and couldn’t we all use a smile?
How do your students send positive vibes into the world with their artwork?
What examples of art in unexpected places can you find in your community?
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