Can art be random and happen by chance? Or, must it follow rules and be well-planned? This lesson is an exercise in intuitive drawing and writing based on the art of Jean (aka Hans) Arp, a pioneer of abstract art known for making randomness and chance part of his process.
I taught this lesson during a school wide arts day event to a class of Grade 11 students, many of whom are not art students. I found the lesson HERE on the Blick website. It comes complete with a PDF lesson plan as well as a video tutorial.
I started off with an art history slideshow I made and explained the Dada movement to them. They all thought it was 'weird' and not really art, lol. I remember I felt the same way back in art school!
I pre-mixed some watered down glue and pre-cut 2 arms length of black yarn. Students dipped the yarn into the glue and then 'randomly' laid it out onto heavy white paper or watercolor paper.
Thought supposedly random, I did have them make sue they had some clearly defined sections so encouraged them to make some loops.
So these all needed to dry in order to complete the next step. Ideally, let them dry overnight.
But this was a day long event so I only had a couple of periods for them to dry.
During this time, the English teacher and I taught them how to a Dadaist poem. In 1920, one of the founding members of Dada, Tristan Tzara, wrote instructions for making a Dada poem, leaving the responsibility of selecting words and communicating ideas up to chance rather than the artist.
Here are Tzara’s instructions:
The English teacher provided them with photocopies of pages from English novels they had read that year. So they cut those up, randomly chose words. and glued them onto a sheet of paper.
Once the yarn was more or less dry, students used fine tip Sharpies and wrote their poems all throughout their yarn design. The words could go anywhere and be different sizes and different styles.
They could also add patterns and doodles.
Then they used watercolour to add colour to their work.
Although the kids found Dada a really odd art movement, I think they liked the freedom of the art lesson and enjoyed the overall process. Three of us teachers even collaborated in making one- it was really fun!
Some finished pieces:
At the end of the day, we had a mini exhibition of the artworks.
Here are the Dada poems: