Street Art started as slogans for political and social commentary that was normally written on public walls. Modern street art developed in New York City in the 1960’s and 1970’s and became popular in the 1980’s. For our project we chose artists Jean-Michele Basquiat and Banksy, as both artists are well known for evolving from painting graffiti on public walls to be at the helm of what today is called street art style. The work of these artists makes an interesting research as their work normally contains political and social commentaries.
I wanted to present a project based on the work of these artists within the constrictions of the class room. My task was to find a way to help students to produce art works that reflected the work and influence of Basquiat and Banksy, without merely copying or scribbling graffiti on their paper.
The project involves construction, painting and printmaking, therefore students will spend at least, two sessions per artist.
Basquiat – Construction
How the project developed
To get inspiration and to engage the students we started by creating sculptures/construction of what we called “techno people”.
In producing these sculptures, we used a variety of materials such as timber blocks, aluminium wire, some computer parts, nails, kitchen scrubbing wool, aluminium foil and lots of imagination. Students had the freedom to create a character using the construction materials and tools like small hammers, pliers and glue guns.
Notes: – Sourcing and resourcing for this project should start a couple of months ahead. Students could bring some of the recycled materials above mentioned from home.
If wooden blocks are difficult to find, cardboard, plastic cutlery, rope and other plastic bibs and bobs are a good alternative. This way you don’t need hammers if you don’t like the idea of hammers in the classroom. Scissors, cardboard knives and glue guns will be recommended for older students. For Primary/elementary students scissors and masking tape will be enough if using cardboard and plastic. Find more on construction with cardboard
After the “techno people” were finished, on another session, students set up the constructions on their tables and share them so they could use them as models to create paintings in a similar style of Basquiat. We used brown paper and Chromacryl acrylic paint for the painting part of this project. Students used charcoal to draw from the models on the table and to create a composition, and then, they proceeded to paint. Words and outline were added at the end. Students were very pleased that they have created their unique interpretation of Basquiat’s paintings.
Banksy’s style is less colourful than Basquiat’s and he uses the stencilling technique. To connect with his work and to create the feeling of stencilling/painting on a street wall we used a mixed media of printmaking and bright colours.
First we did experimental printing to create the background. We printed pieces of textiles and other materials with different textures such as Hessian/burlap, bubble wrap and thick pieces of textiles with textures.
After the background was printed we cut shapes of people, birds, trees and other symbols created by the students and printed with black paint on the top of the background.
For printing techniques visit our You Tube channel
Note: to print with pieces of fabric roll the paint directly onto the piece of fabric, apply to the white paper and place a piece of newspaper on top and print using a rubber roller, (see picture). While the background is drying, draw and cut shapes representing people, animals, trees and other symbols in preparation to print. Use thin cardboard like manila folders or greeting card stock to create the figures. There is no need to cut many shapes, just a few will be enough to create repetitions and movement.
- Brown Kraft paper is the best, it can be primed with white paint or Gesso
- Chromacryl Acrylic paint is best but if not available, a good quality Tempera paint is good too.
- Chromacryl Gesso is an option to prime paper
- A medium size and a small paint brush per student
- A piece of rag to clean per student
- Water containers
- Construction: timber, cardboard, plastic bits, corrugated cardboard, jute, rope, some computer parts, aluminium foil, aluminium wire, nails, screws, metal washers, any small metal bits. Plastic cutlery, plastic plates to cut shapes from, any small plastic pieces that can be used creatively.
- Note: these materials are suggested materials and can be replaced with other materials already in the classroom storage closet or whatever students can bring from home.