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The jungle mural.

The jungle mural

THE JUNGLE MURAL WAS DEVELOPED by three Florida State University art education majors with third grade students at Astoria Park Elementary School in Tallahassee. It was part of a larger unit on "Animals and their environment," designed to help children understand how to make art as well as appreciate the art of others. The sub-unit emphasized jungle animals and used art history, art criticism, general knowledge about African and other exotic animals, as well as applied elements and principles of design in the making of a jungle mural. The unit had three objectives: to encourage students' personal fulfillment through art experiences, to teach students about artistic heritage and to develop students' awareness of the role of art in society.

Students first saw a film on African animals. After the film, students named the animals and analyzed their physical characteristics, including why they thought giraffes have long necks, why lions are brown, why crocodiles have big teeth, and so on. Then, students focused specifically on the animals' colors. Looking at photographs of the animals, they learned that animals' colors generally serve the purpose of display and camouflage. They discussed why they thought animals would want to variously display or camouflage themselves. Arising from the discussion, the students were introduced to the idea that artists sometimes arbitrarily assign colors to their subject matter. What are these artists trying to display? Using reproductions of artworks ranging from Franz Marc's The Yellow Cow to El Greco's St. Thomas and the Beggar (which has a dappled white horse), the students analyzed why someone might want to paint a yellow cow. From this discussion, they learned that arbitrary color selection usually signifies some emotive meaning. That is, the artist's intent is to express some subjective feeling about the subject matter, rather than realism. To reinforce the students' understanding of colors' emotional qualities, they played a color game using color-oriented poems from Hailstones and Halibut Bones, by Mary O'Neil (Garden City, NJ: Doubleday, 1961). Poems were read without the names of the colors in them and students assigned the poems a color, explaining why they chose that color in terms of the color-emotion relationship.

The third stage in the unit required students to analyze animals in terms of their underlying geometric shapes. Using only squares, ovals, circles, rectangles and triangles, they drew the animal of their choice from a photograph. After the geometrically fashioned animal was completed, students softened the outlines and added smaller features and details, such as eyes,fur, texture,and so on. They then applied color using either camouflage, display or arbitrary/ emotive hues.

The third graders then viewed reproductions of jungle environments. These included photographs anb Rousseau prints. They analyzed and discussed the reproductions in terms of individual plant forms, colors and illusion of depth created by under-and-over and size-and-position relationships. After this discussion, students drew an environment behind, around and in some cases, in front of their animals.

Finally, children traced their animals and environments onto overhead projector transparencies and projected their images onto 48" (122cm) wide mural paper. Students made decisions about placement and size with the help of their instructors. Images were initially drawn with chalk, and then finished with Cray-pas.

The resulting murals was displayed at its creators' school and at the University. It not only has been a source of pride for all concerned, but has in addition proven that fruitful benefits are to be gained through the cooperation of art educators at all levels. The most important facet of the experience, however, lies not in the final product. In the process of making the mural, students learned about colors, shapes, composition, the nature of African animals, ways to approach and talk about art forms, colors and themes, their artistic heritage, and something of the nature of group processes. All of this was consciously incorporated into the seemingly simple project called "The Jungle Mural."
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Title Annotation:Wall Spaces
Author:Reeve, Scott
Publication:School Arts
Date:Jan 1, 1989
Previous Article:Artwall.
Next Article:The two-part mural.

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