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Preserving the rain forest ... in clay.

One of today's most serious environmental concerns is the destruction of the tropical rain forest. This marvelous ecosystem is being destroyed at the rate of fifty acres per minute. Not only is this producing dramatic changes in world climate, it is eliminating many species of plants and animals that have yet to be discovered. Particularly endangered are plant species which could provide medicines or even cures for today's illnesses. The beauty and diversity of the tropical rain forest is unrailed; its future is in the hands of its worst enemy - humankind.

In introducing a lesson on the rain forest to my Art Major 3-D classes, one of mu objectives was to encourage my students to become more aware of clay and how it can be used in high-relief sculptures. My primary objective, however, was to create a sensitivity and awarenness of the tropical rain forest and its plight. The students were shown a video about the rain forest, and given resource books from our library. Their assignment was to come up with a scale drawing (at least 12 x 12"; 30 30 cm) incorporating the concepts of good design. We discussed the ideas of foreground, middle ground and background and what goes into making a good ladscape. When the drawing were complete, we talked about how to transform a two-dimensional drawing into a three-dimensional relief sculpture. The concepts of low, medium and high relief were covered, as well as those of pattern and texture.

The students began with a backgroud slab, and either built onto or carved out the shapes. When all claywork was finished, each project was fired once, then painted with acrylic paints. some students applied a final semigloss spray coat.

The results were quite successful. The students worked diligently on the clay formation and the painting of each plaque. Two classes completed the rain forest assignment which made for a rather impressive display at this year's Art Fair. Hopefully, my goal of making my students and the public more aware of the most fascinating place on this earth, the tropical rain forest, was a success. Perhaps if I and others like me succeed, we can halt the rain forest's impending destruction.
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Whitenight, John
Publication:School Arts
Date:Dec 1, 1992
Words:364
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