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Deconstructivism in Youth Created Art Study of Youth Created Art ARE-6933 – Summer 2019 University of Florida

Jennifer Tallini

No More Words. (2019) Jennifer Tallini.

Observed Findings • What started out as a lesson on mosaics for elementary art students, turned into finished pieces that embraced a deconstructive approach. • This approach is in reference to “the late 20th century movement where the theory of ‘Deconstruction’, is a form of semiotic analysis. It is characterized by fragmentation, an interest in manipulating a structure’s surface, skin and non-rectilinear shapes which appear to distort and dislocate” (Goebel, 2015). • Deconstructive art is synonymous with fantastic architecture such as the infamous Guggenheim. Elementary students develop their sense of this type of deconstruction through creating mosaics.

What is a Mosaic? A recent mosaic lesson given by me for grades Kindergarten through 3rd grade included essential questions such as: • “What is a mosaic?”, • “How do artists use mosaics to express their ideas?” • “What is the value of small things put together to create a larger, more beautiful output?”

After exploring these ideas, children were asked to create a mosaic using 12 x 12 card stock, pre-cut squares of construction paper, and pre-cut squares of previously painted artwork. The students were intrigued by the fact that painted circles artwork from a previous lesson had been cut into small squares to be repurposed for the mosaics and commented on the vibrant mix of shapes and colors. They recognized the risk in cutting work and the action of deconstructing work by their teacher as acceptable and useful when you have a plan or vision for something else.

Risk Takers Mosaic creations began with students’ aim to copy models (they were shown several detailed different types of mosaics on a Smart Board screen) and then created their own variations on those examples (Malin, 2013, p. 7). What came from this lesson was demonstrated risk taking, creativity, story-telling, and unexpected spontaneous discussions about worlds the students had created in their minds as they worked. The finished work showed fragmented designs in fun different ways.

Mosaic Created by 1st Grade Girl A. (2019). Author.

The risk some children take in making art that goes deeper than the original framework of the lesson they are given can be very exciting. Risk taking demonstrates their desire to think creatively for themselves and wanting to bend the rules a little. The quirky asymmetrical forms that came out of the mosaic lesson example speaks to how children seek to find meaning within their art to something they can relate to their own world. The meaning behind each work unfolded once students began to deconstruct the paper squares. Mosaics looked like fantastical play structures, fantasy forts, places to play hide and seek, and as one student made, “a monster protecting it’s treasures�. Mosaic Created by 1st Grade Boy A. (2019). Author.

When? When do children learn to deconstruct and apply it in their artwork? “Deconstruction maintains that in order to understand anything, you must look at its smallest parts” (Ringger, 2014, p. 155). “We break down the world around us into its fundamental origins,” (Ringger, 2014, p. 155). Mosaics form images from parts as do puzzles. Manipulation of mosaics and working with puzzles at an early age support child development in their visual perception of the world around them. Puzzle activities connect to the learning obtained through conceiving a mosaic. Construction can also lead to deconstruction and students discover creative processes within those activities.

Mosaic created by 3rd grade girl A. (2019). Author.

“Deconstructivism is not a style, but rather an aggressive approach to design that skews, bends, distorts, fractures and scatters the orthodox geometric shapes routinely used in architectural form-making. It is a partly rebellious and deliberately disorderly gesture against the purity of form� (Gapp, 1988). The rebellion a student feels when deconstructing can touch a sense of being risky and unnatural, however a student’s artistic voice may direct them otherwise. Unintentional creating can also emerge from similar activities as students devise what something might look like or symbolize along the way.

Intention Exploring the research of intentionality in art and its’ links to child development raises the awareness of how children can respond to and engage in art making activities through deconstruction. Many of the students who chose to deconstruct as they created their mosaics did not set out with that plan in mind. Returning to the earlier mosaic lesson example, children chose to move away from a geometric or symmetrical design and constructed houses, people, faces, animals to gain deeper meaning for themselves. Most surprising, historically strong academic students outside of the art room stuck with creating contemporary patterns, intricate and bright.

Others were not afraid to suggest that a roof could be zig zagged, or hair could be made of yellow blocks. This spirit of freedom in design is passionate and fun. It does not matter whether the designs can really exist or not, they are tangible to the creator and the person who views them.

Top: Mosaic Created by 1st grade girl B. (2019). Author. Bottom: Mosaic Created by 3rd grade boy E. (2019). Author.

Investigators Children engaged as “co-investigators” (Sakr & Kucirkova, 2016, p. 3) with their peers as they mutually decided on what they were doing out loud with each other. Some students who may not have thought of cutting the squares further saw another student’s work and became inspired to cut their own. Some really wanted to piece together the painted squares back to their original order like a puzzle. This offered students a chance for critical reflection on the previous work. “Wow I remember making that and it looks so different now!” exclaimed some. The exploration and creative manipulation of materials allowed the students to see that it’s acceptable to have unfinished work (in the case of the painted papers that were cut up). As students began to assign an image to their mosaics in terms of the presence of things or objects, they began to develop representational images and not just records of movement (College Board, 2012).

Mosaic created by 1st grade girl D. (2019). Author.

Inspiration Artists through history have tried to “capture that unencumbered spirit in their own work by mimicking the art of children” (Malin, 2013, p. 7). Quirky shapes, forms and free expression are infused into works of Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. It is known that Pablo Picasso “studied from his own four children, admiring the imperfection and energy of their drawings. The link between Picasso’s children and his own creativity extended to paper and wooden dolls that he made in the 1930s and ’40s. (In turn, he sometimes incorporated his children’s toys into his own sculptural artworks.)” (Leibowitz, 2018). Development in art happens in many ways. Deconstructing and fragmenting is just one way children learn to distinguish images in their worlds. Artists will continue to mimic the free expression of children’s art.

Background Image:

Mosaic created by 1st grade girl E. (2019). Author.

REFERENCES College Board. (2012). Child development and arts education: A review of current research and best practices. New York: College Board. Retrieved from Gapp, P. (2018, September 03). Fractured design. Retrieved from Goebel, D. (2018, October 13). Fragmentation or deconstruction art? Retrieved from Lebowitz, R. (2018, August 07). From Paul Klee to Alexander Calder, 7 Artists Who Created Inventive Toys. Retrieved from Malin, H. (2013). Making meaningful; Intention in children's art making. International Journal of Art and Design Education, 32(1). 6-17. Mosaic created by 1st grade boy A. (2019). Author. Mosaic created by 1st grade girl A. (2019). Author Mosaic created by 1st grade girl B. (2019). Author. Mosaic created by 1st grade girl D. (2019). Author. Mosaic created by 1st grade girl E. (2019). Author. Mosaic created by 1st grade girl F. (2019). Author. Mosaic created by 3rd grade girl A. (2019). Author. Mosaic created by 3rd grade boy C. (2019). Author. Ringger, K. (2014). Deconstruction, Abjection, and Meaning in Contemporary Art: World Trends and the BYU Museum of Art. BYU Studies Quarterly, 53(1), 152-167. Retrieved from Sakr, M., & Kucirkova, N. (2016). Parent-child moments of meeting in art-making with collage, iPad, tuxpaint, and crayons. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 18(2). Squares with Concentric Circles. (1913). Wassily Kandinsky. Retrieved from

Mosaic created by 1st grade girl F. (2019). Author

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Deconstructivism in Youth Created Art  

Research Brief - Jennifer Tallini - May 19, 2019 ARE-6933 Perspectives In Artistic Development University of Florida

Deconstructivism in Youth Created Art  

Research Brief - Jennifer Tallini - May 19, 2019 ARE-6933 Perspectives In Artistic Development University of Florida

Profile for sktchy15