If you follow me on Facebook, you know I love My Modern Met, a website that shares creativity, science, and art news and inspiration. Recently, I shared a post about some amazing quilled portraits that made me think about what other portraits I could find made out of non-traditional materials.
Hopefully these artworks will inspire you and your students to think beyond the paintbrush and try out some new techniques. To help you explore these artworks further, download this free worksheet to use in your classroom that works with many of these intriguing portraits.
Yulia Brodskaya makes these amazingly colorful and detailed portraits using rolled and pinched paper. I did quilling with my students earlier in the year, and these artworks would be excellent to show in preparation for a project on quilling to help students really understand the possibilities. Learn more about her work here.
When I shared the quilling post on Facebook, a reader drew my attention to Mississipian artist Ruth Miller who embroiders larger than life, realistic portraits with wool tapestry yarn. Fiber arts are often considered to be a “lesser” art form, so this would be a great aesthetics discussion with your students about gender and elitism in art. Learn more about Ruth Miller’s art here.
One of Ai Weiwei’s iconic works is his Sunflower Seeds. He handcrafted 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds and filled a gallery in the Tate Modern. Read more about that work here. As an homage to Ai Weiwei, artist Hong Yi made a portrait of Weiwei out of sunflower seeds. Love.
Artist Mary Ellen Croteau made a self-portrait out of bottle caps. I love this use of recycled materials, and it is sure to inspire your students. Click over to Colossal to see some cool detail shots of the portrait.
Media artist iri5‘s Ghost in the Machine series creates portraits of musicians using the cassette’s of their music. Brain Pickings says “The project is inspired by the philosophical sentiment that the body is but a package for the spirit.” This is an amazing connection between the media and the subject of the artwork. See more examples here.
Okay, I apologize for including this one, because it is totally creeping me out, but Marc Quinn casts a sculpture of himself every 5 years in (his own) frozen blood. It captures our fleeting existence, the aging process, and the delicateness of life (keeping it frozen and unmelted makes it high maintenance).
Trash, Food, and Everything In Between
Pop Artist Jason Mecier is the master of portraits out of wacky materials. From a portrait of Kevin Bacon made out of…you guessed it…bacon to Steve Jobs made out of computer parts to Rupaul made out of items from the beauty aisle, this guy has done it all. There are probably over a hundred artworks on his website to enjoy, so head over there to experience the fun.
Don’t forget to download the free worksheet to use in your classroom with these artworks!
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