REMIx: Social Media Cathedral Window
If a remix is something that takes existing concepts or content, and alters it to create a new and thought provoking artwork. The new work may look similar to the one it is referencing, or it may take on a more abstract connection.
The Social Media Cathedral Window is our take on a Remixing of how stories have been told over time. Students automatically understand the roles of social media in their lives and know how the chats, the tweets, and the posts they create are stories of their lives and lives of others. What they find incredible is how during medieval times stories were told through stained glass.
I begin this unit by asking my students to outline some of their favorite social networking sites and explain for me what they use them for. I then contrast this by showing them cathedral windows, which depict scenes and or ideas. At this point my students can begin to see how social media and medieval cathedral windows are possibly connected but the ties are tenuous. Then comes the real confusion. I show my students Kirby Ferguson’s Everything is a Remix: Part Two.
At this point my students are starting to wonder what on earth is going on and what frankly is a Remix? Their confusion comes around through a class discussion where I am often able to tease out the idea that the social media sites we use are the story telling platform of our age just as the stained glass window was for medieval Europe.
So Now the Art making
The easier of the two projects is for students to recreate the social media site of their choosing. We find these icons online and are able to use transfer paper to have them transfer the image onto black cardstock. I find using black cardstock works slightly better than construction paper. One important step at this point is to ensure that students include the, “lead caming lines”. A great teachable moment here as invariable every student asks what is came, or assumes I have misspoken. The caming lines are that which keep letters or designs in place in the center of the cut out design and help to strengthen the finished work. At this point I often ask students to take a thick black marker and outline all of the icon they are trying to replicate including additional caming lines for support. I explain that this will be the black paper and the colored areas on your icon will be filled with colored tissue.
Once students have transferred their image onto the card they are ready to begin cutting. We usually end up using a variety of exacto or utility knives and or scissors, dependent on shape and design. Once the students have cut out their icon I ask them to take a second sheet of card and trace their cut negative spaces onto the new sheet. Cutting out the second sheet they have made the opposite side of the work and at this point we discuss the display of our finished pieces.
As we will be hanging our work in the window to capture the light we want to have both sides of the artwork finished. This is when students can begin to choose colors for the tissue paper insert, which they will hide inside the sandwiching of two identical cut out pieces of card.
Using glue sticks students then apply the tissue paper inside the two cut outs. I find gluing the card vs. the tissue is a big help and reduces tearing of the fragile tissue paper. For advanced designs with multiple colors, I ask students to cut out a square roughly the dimensions of the space they want to fill. Apply glue around the design and stick the roughly sized square onto the card. Then, using an exacto knife students can score the tissue paper and peel away the excess. Another great reason to include thick lead came lines in their design. The final pieces come together by filling in all remaining areas of negative space with colored tissue paper.
This piece is great fun for students and they love having their work up on display windows at school and seen by lots of students and passers by. We have ours on the window to our studio and so often students will stop and enjoy the colored icons others have created.