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Challenge and Accomplishment

April 24, 2023 | Clara Buckley

At this time of year, students are in the flow. They know how to use many art materials, they’re confident in their abilities, they’ve practiced working in groups. It’s time for a big challenge!

In small groups, create a chimera using paper mache.

First we look at the classical chimera from Greek mythology: a fire-breathing monster with the body and head of a lion, a snake for a tail and a goat head coming from its back.

Nowadays the term chimera is used to describe any mythical or fictional creature with parts taken from various animals. Students remember creatures from the books of Narnia, Percy Jackson, and Harry Potter.

In small, mixed-age groups, students design their own chimera. Will it be scary or cute? Funny or fierce? Will it live in the water, land, or air? What key features of an animal make it distinct?

Working collaboratively, students are challenged to share their own ideas, listen to others’ ideas, and work to incorporate others’ design ideas.

Laughter rang through the art room as children shared crazy ideas for their creations. For some students they have looked forward to this project after watching in previous years as the chimera sculptures grew. Using reference photos of animals, students sketched different views of their chimera preparing to take their design into 3D.

Clara Buckley

Preschool Art Specialist; Middle School Art

Clara Buckley’s teaching spans the ages of Mustard Seed School, from the youngest students in the preschool to students in the graduating class. She’s found many similarities between teaching three-year-olds and thirteen-year-olds!

As an art teacher who never enjoyed drawing, Ms Buckley’s hope is that each child she teaches discovers a way to create art that they enjoy, whether it be sculpture, printing, textiles, architectural drawing, or collage.

Ms. Buckley loves living in Jersey City, a place whose diversity and welcome for immigrants reflects her own family experience. When planning future travel destinations, art, food, and time with family are featured items on her list.

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