Friday, February 24, 2012

a man called kimmy.

This 4th grade project was inspired by the work of African-American sculptor Kimmy Cantrell and the cool lesson previously done by Mary over at Marymaking.

I loved seeing and hearing the reaction of the students this week when I shared Kimmy's name before showing students a picture of what the artist looks like. Similar to the reaction I got last week when we did a project based on the work of Pearl Fryar.

Kimmy changed careers over 20 years ago to focus his energy on his art. He went to college for business administration and after 12 years working in that field he realized he would be way happier if he went back to making things like he did in high school.

When we looked at a number of his mask sculptures the class and I talked about how they were examples of asymmetry. By changing the sizes and placements of facial shapes, Kimmy throws off the normal proportion and makes work more interesting because of it. We also looked at how he uses pattern  throughout his work.

We looked at a couple of images by Picasso and a few African masks to see what has influenced Kimmy's style over the years.

Before students started on their large mask drawings they were required to do at least two sketches. They turned these in with their finished projects to provide evidence of their planning.

Once the sketches were complete they drew out their design on a larger sheet. It had to be based on one of the sketches or a combination of the two. Students traced their lines in marker, adding thicker lines to provide visual variety and emphasis to certain parts of their designs. They added color with marker and colored pencils. We revisited making shapes look more 3d by going from dark to light with colored pencils, and they were asked to show implied volume with that technique somewhere in their image.

The drawings were then cut out and glued to a piece of black paper to get them to pop a bit.

This project provided an interesting contrast to the Day of the Dead skulls we did earlier in the year, when proportions were more normal and the heads were examples of symmetry.

Great job 4th graders!


  1. I keep seeing projects about this artist on the blogs. I think I'll do some research and try this with my students. Thanks fo the informative post!

  2. Pat - I am doing the same thing - I am very intrigued by this artist! I am going to use it for a 4th grade clay lesson! Thanks for posting - I love the sketches the students did to plan out their work - my students have a hard time with that! They always want to hurry to the finish line!