Geometric Mouse/Biomorphic House

Subject: Shape
Graduation Standards: (1), (3), (4), (5)
Materials: Various Plexiglass cutout shapes.

DESCRIPTION: Students use their bodies and plexiglass shapes to learn the difference between geometric and biomorphic shapes, and discover how shape can express content.

OBJECTIVES: Students demonstrate an understanding of the role of shapes in artworks and learn how they con vey feelings.

PROCEDURE: Here is a box filled with many different shapes. (Empty the box onto the gallery floor.) The shapes are geometric and biomorphic. The shapes explored in math class, like the circles and squares, are forms that can be measured. These regular forms or regular shapes are called geometric shapes. Some other examples of geometric shapes are the triangle and the rectangle. In contrast to regular forms, most shapes in nature are irregular shapes or biomorphic shapes. Bio means life, and morphic means form, life-form, or we could say life-shape. For example, a pear has a biomorphic shape. The actual shape of your body is not a perfect circle, or square, or triangle. The actual shape of your entire body is biomorphic. Your body is a life form.

Let's join hands and as a group make some geometric shapes. (Have the group stand in a circle, square, rectangle and triangle.) Now that we know what geometric shapes look like, let's sort the shapes from the box we just emptied, into two piles one of geometric shapes and those that are not. (Set the biomorphic shapes aside.)

Let's divide into two small groups. Each group will take half of the geometric shapes. Group one: Use your shapes to make a composition that expresses action, movement, excitement, etc. Group two: use your shapes to make a composition that expresses stillness or silence. (Or try to give the groups opposite concepts.) When you have completed your compositions we'll discuss and compare them. What makes one composition active and the other still? Let's look at several works of art and see if we can find some geometric shapes. (As you look at works, discuss how shapes express ideas such as stability, nervousness, balance, etc.)

Many shapes are not geometric. When we sorted shapes earlier, those that were not geometric were biomorphic. I am going to select two or three biomorphic shapes from the shape box. Let's join hands and see if we can work together to recreate each biomorphic shape. Now that we have formed several shapes, let's search for some biomorphic shapes in works of art. Do any of the irregular shapes in this work of art remind you of geometric shapes?

Do these shapes form recognizable objects, or do they simply exist as biomorphic shapes? If they form objects that you recognize, what objects are they? Do any of these shapes hint at or remind you of nature in some way? Do the shapes in this work seem to be affecting each other? Do the shapes create a sense of movement? Would you say that these shapes are loud or quiet? What is the overall mood that these shapes help to create? If you could be one of the shapes in this work of art, which one would you be? What would you sound, smell, taste like?

(1) Read, View, Listen
(3) Literature and the Arts
(4) Math Applications
(5) Inquiry

Age level: Appropriate for grades 2-7.
Artworks used: Paintings or sculpture that use bold abstracted shapes.
Props needed: Various Plexiglass cutout shapes.
Related to Minneapolis Sculpture Garden: Yes