Sculptor/Clay is a strategy in which students work together to visually represent a word, idea or character, with one individual serving as the “sculptor,” who moves the other individual/s serving as the “clay,” into position. This activity allows students to safely practice physical interactions and to explore how to build an effective visual representation of their thinking using another person’s body.
Invite students to sit on the floor or at their desks. Introduce the strategy: How do sculptors make meaning through their art form? Today we will work like sculptors, using a partner’s body to express our thinking. Select a volunteer to help model three different sculpting techniques. Pick a word/character that is familiar to the group, and then ask the student volunteer, May I sculpt you? (Full touch) Once consent has been given move the person carefully and appropriately into position, model how to use physical contact to sculpt a person; show final sculpture of word then invite volunteer to relax. (Near touch) May I sculpt you again? Once consent has been given, use imaginary puppet strings attached to the volunteer (or clay)’s body to raise or lower different parts of body, without actually touching, to make the exact same image; show sculpture then invite volunteer to relax. (No touch) May I sculpt you a final time? Once consent has been given, shape your body into the sculpture and show it to the volunteer. Then, the clay shapes her/his own body into the same form; show sculpture then invite volunteer to relax. Next, put students into pairs. This can be done randomly or students can make two concentric circles and the people who end up across from one another become partners. Give students a prompt: Sculpt an image of the word tenacious. Or, sculpt an image of how you think adults view teenagers. Or, sculpt an image of Romeo from Romeo and Juliet. One person in each pair will be the sculptor and the other will be the clay. Ask groups to choose a sculpting technique that feels most comfortable. Remind them to ask permission to sculpt. Ideally, the pairs work silently and simultaneously. After they finish, the sculptures remain frozen and the sculptors walk about their newly created gallery. The sculptors are asked to describe what they see and make inferences and connections between the sculptures and the initial prompt. Afterwards, the sculptor and clay switch roles and the cycle of creation and reflection are repeated.
- How did it feel to be the clay? How did it feel to be the sculptor?
- What body shapes did we see in our statues? How did these shapes represent similar/different ideas?
- How did our sculptures connect to our larger inquiry or question?
- Before beginning please ask your partner if you may sculpt them; discuss any physical limitations that the “clay” has today. Honor what is needed.
- Please be sure to sculpt your clay into a comfortable position that can be held.
- Try to explore different levels and body positions. Don’t forget about sculpting a facial expression.
- Allow multiple sculptors to work on multiple pieces of clay (people) at the same time.
- Reading/Writing: Create a sculpture of a character at a specific moment in a story, or of a feeling or action in a story.
- Math: Create a statue that represents opinions about math or a mathematical vocabulary: parallel lines, triangle, acute angle.
- Science: Create a statue that represents a scientific concept or term.
- Social Studies: Create a statue that represents a moment, concept or person from history.
Augusto Boal; Michael Rohd.