Wednesday, May 27, 2015

street sweets!

This week I'm chillin' with my kinders and we are using the most awesome mosaics by Jim Bachor to learn a little bit about texture in nature and art.

Jim has been buzzing all over the interwebs lately, and for good reason- his mosaic series of cool treats that are filling potholes in Chicago and elsewhere are super rad! You can use his work to introduce students to a variety of elements- texture, color value, 3d solids, art historical movements/techniques, and the purpose and place of art in society.

With my littles, we have been looking at how Jim uses light and dark colors to make his images look 3d, how the tiles feel different than the cement and road they are placed in, and the fact that these artworks are out in public, actually placed in the street, and not in an art gallery or museum.

I have been sharing some photos of his mosaics from the art blog Colossal and the kids are getting such a kick out of his work and subject. It really is such a great hook to get students engaged. If you follow him on instagram, you can see some more behind the scenes stuff too:)

After we look at Jim's work, we take a little on campus field trip- out to the playground with our black color sticks and white paper to do a rubbing of the black top and then over to one of the mosaics we did with students a few years back, so the kids can actually feel the difference between the tile surfaces and grout.


Then we come back in and cut out a large grey popsicle shape- larger than the actual pop to simulate the space and color of the grout of a mosaic. Kids pick a color for their treat and add white to a a third, leave a 3rd the color, and add black to the other third. We cut those parts up to little squares and rectangles (keeping them sorted and stacked in the process:) so that we can glue those onto the gray shape on the rubbing paper. I emphasize leaving little spaces between the pieces to simulate the look of a mosaic. Also, when we glue the pieces on, I show them how to put lines of glue on the gray paper, so they don't have to put glue on each individual piece.

And finito- the kinders have a delicious looking intro to texture, all thanks to Jim and the long line of mosaic artists that have come before!


  1. hey don -
    wow - i am humbled/honored! your students did a wonderful job rendering the popsicles using simple shapes and minimal colors. that's what mosaic art is all about - simplify, simplify, simplify AND being constrained by the colors you have on hand (unlike painting where you just mix up the color you need). i think part of the reason i like mosaics is because of those constraints - it's a very difficult art form to master and i like the challenge. i also liked the clever way you introduced the texture of asphalt as part of the art - love it! i'm very impressed and would love to have a piece of one of the artworks to hang in my studio for inspiration (if any of your artists are willing to give them up!) i'll trade a small "POTHOLE" t-shirt for one!
    i would also like to do a Facebook post about your project if you don't mind - just let me know if that's ok.
    best -

    1. thanks so much for the feedback, jim! I can't wait to pass on your words to the kids:) I think we can get a kid to do a trade with ya. feel free to share on fb, too.

  2. hi - ok great - unfortunately i can only swing one t-shirt - sorry - it'll be an adult small (smallest size i have)
    i'm at 4631 north kenton, chicago, il 60630
    feel free to share our correspondence
    thanks don -
    i'll send the tee out shortly
    best -
    FYI - my emails bounce back when answering your emails - hence this post - jim

  3. Love all of your current-artist finds and connections to your projects. Thanks for sharing. (And I love the pothole art!)

  4. Hey D,
    You are such an inspiration to me! Love the connection to another contemporary artist which you are so good at, but even more, an accessible Kinder lesson that covers so much material in a unique way! Thanks!