When I discovered empty boxes as tall as me, I did a happy dance and made room for them in the art room. My neighboring STEM teacher was equally as happy about her new tables that were in the boxes... it was a gift that kept on giving.
At first I was unsure of what to use the boxes for. While I waited for inspiration to spark, we used the boxes as a collective gallery space for art works in my classroom. Then, the gallery room boxes traveled the school and were housed in the 7th grade classrooms as a traveling gallery for a few weeks before retuning back to the art room.
Upon the return of the boxes, I realized that their arrival was a wonderful opportunity for my 8th grade students to work on large scale, mixed-media, recycled pieces.
Each student was to create a layered work of art that had to include the boxes as a base, newspaper, paint, added recycled cardboard pieces, and portraiture.
My 8th graders were intimidated by the size of the boxes. To get their feet wet we held a contest to see who could fill the inside of the box with torn newspaper pieces using correct care and craftsmanship first. The contest loosened them up, helped them to think on a larger scale, and raised the level of enthusiasm for the project.
We worked on thumbnail sketches to think of the creative process we would need to follow in order to create a finished piece. Students were asked to write their steps down so they could think critically about the projects before they went any further with their work. Small groups met to give students the opportunity to explain their steps and get ideas for any changes that needed to be made.
After students came up with their plan of action they very eagerly got started. I demonstrated tinting the gesso, hot glue safety, proper use of the X-acto knife, and how to enlarge drawings on the projector. Students worked at their own pace for the rest of the project.
Taking it further:
When the projects were completed we had a 2 hour pop-up art show in the media center and invited the 8th grade teachers and administration to come and view the work. A selection of mixed-media recycled portraits were sent in the the Junk Yard Wars recycled art show put on by Jamie Richardson and her students at Cooper Middle School.