Edward Weston Plaster Works, Los Angeles 1925 gelatin silver print | paper Gift of The Morris and Beverly Baker Foundation, in memory of Morris D. Baker, a graduate of The University of Michigan School of Architecture, 1952 2000/2.145
Students will create a paper cut based on a photograph, defining the planes and positive and negative space
National Core Standards
Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work
One class period
White and black paper
Gray paper, newspapers, and other “found” neutral colored papers
Different colored square papers
About five landscape photographs with interesting shapes and textures. Black and white photographs will allow students to focus on shapes and textures and not be distracted by color. Examples may include Brett Weston and James Valentine, from UMMA collection
Introduce vocabulary: composition, line, positive and negative space, shape, texture, soft and sharp focus
Analyze Stieglitz’s and Weston’s photographs. Ask students to describe the texture of these photos, and how texture and soft/sharp focus are similar/different.
After observing City of Ambition, discuss positive and negative space. Positive spaces are those occupied by the main subject of the work. The negative spaces are the areas around and behind the positive space; often called the background. Therefore, the shapes of negative spaces are determined by the shapes of the positive spaces.
Carefully cut a shape out of one side of a piece of paper that resembles The City of Ambition skyline. Observe both the pieces you cut out and discover what the positive and negative spaces are.
Trace the skyline again with a different piece of paper. Put them together like a puzzle, so the positive space is one color and the negative space is a different color.
Ask students if they see how the shapes fit together. Are there any spaces between? No, because negative space takes up all the gaps made by positive space. The resulting visual images are challenging and stimulate the imagination of students. Try putting several examples of the combined positive/negative puzzle image together in a quilt-like repeating fashion, as a tessellation.
Now turn to the Plaster Works photograph and observe the clear, sharp lines and detail.
Students can cut shapes from the black, gray and white paper, imitating the shapes from the photograph. Put the shapes together to create a Plaster Works collage. In the history of photography, crisp, clear, sharp focus and texture appealed to photographers who embraced the aesthetic of black, and white photography as separate from painting and equally valuable.
Alternative: younger students could create one tessellation project as a group, each student creating one square.
Composition — by John Turner (October 17 2016 @ 10:06 am) Focus — by John Turner (October 17 2016 @ 10:07 am) Line — by John Turner (October 17 2016 @ 10:07 am) Negative space — by John Turner (October 17 2016 @ 10:06 am) Photograph — by John Turner (October 17 2016 @ 10:06 am) Photography — by John Turner (October 17 2016 @ 10:06 am) Positive space — by John Turner (October 17 2016 @ 10:06 am) Tesselation — by John Turner (October 17 2016 @ 10:07 am) Texture — by John Turner (October 17 2016 @ 10:07 am)