One of the projects my students and I are very excited to share in this year's show at the Rahr-West Art Museum this March: The 6th Grade Memory House.
In the past, we have made Joseph Cornell-inspired memory boxes in the 6th grade. I suppose a memory house is the logical progression from shoeboxes? Actually, the idea was planted when I visited the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (Madison, WI) a little over a year ago and viewed the work of the Clayton Brothers; notably, the Tim House. The concept was similar to Cornell's: an enclosed space, an assemblage of symbolic objects that play upon memories. What excited me about the possibility of a memory house was the potential for collaboration between students.
After an adventurous visit to a home improvement store to pick up four 4'x8' styrofoam sheets (Special thank you to a colleague with a Jeep who helped me out!), I measured and constructed the basic shell of the house in the Art Room. The three 6th grade classrooms began work by sharing and writing a list of specific memories from their time in elementary school. Each student made a repousse shingle and several pieces of siding using these memories accompanied by illustrations. Students also volunteered in turns to paint the inside walls, cover the chimney in tin foil, and man the hot glue guns to assemble pieces as they were completed. Finally, each student created a self portrait to hang on the wall inside the house.