Frida’s 28 Corsets: A Fresco Process Grades 6-8 Background: At age 18, Frida was seriously injured in a collision between a trolley car and a bus on which she was a passenger. Frida touched up another artist’s retablo of her accident to make the injured girl look more like herself. The accident left her with multiple fractures of her vertebrae, pelvis, right leg, right foot. In addition, she was impaled by a steel handrail that entered her abdominal cavity. As a result of the accident, Frida wore corsets for most of her life because her spine was too weak to support itself. Frida Kahlo wore plaster corsets for most of her life. She painted them with meaningful symbols like a blood-red hammer and sickle representing the Communist Party that she respected and adored. An unborn baby is also painted on this corset representing the child she was never able to have. She painted plants, animals and other images on her plaster corsets that were meaningful to her. Sometimes Frida covered her corsets with pasted scraps of fabric and feathers, embedded them with mirrors and carved an open circle in the plaster like a skylight near the heart. Performance Standards: VA 6, 7, 8 PR.2: Creates artwork reflecting a range of concepts, ideas and subject matter. VA 6, 7, 8 MC.2: Identifies and works to solve visual problems through creative thinking, planning, and/or experimenting with art materials, tools, and techniques. VA 6, 7, 8, CU1: Discovers how the creative process relates to art history. VA 6, 7, 8, AR.2: Critiques personal artworks as well as art work of others using visual and verbal approaches. VA 6, 7, 8, C.1 Applies information from other disciplines to enhance the understanding and production of artworks. Essential Questions: 1. How do people express themselves through art? 2. What are some specific ways a culture’s traditions and beliefs can influence its works of art? 3. What choices must an artist make before beginning a work? Warm-up Activities: 1. Analyze daily artwork and respond in sketchbook: Questions might include: 1.) List 5 things you see (using single words) 2.) What is happening in the artwork? (1 short sentence) 3.) If you could interview the artist, what would you ask? 2. Review daily class agenda. 3. Participate in dialogue concerning personal and class goals for creating plaster casts. Lesson: Day 1-2: Introduce students to Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Classroom Museum Walk: With sketchbooks and pencils, students move around the classroom areas and sketch images from the Frida and Diego’s paintings that have been exhibited. Students need to select images from the paintings that have personal meaning or attract their interest. Next to the Diego and Frida sketches, students will draw personal images from their own cultures and lives that hold meaning for them. From these sketches, have students select their favorite drawings and redraw two or three of them as simple contour drawings, each on their own small piece of paper. Using a stick pin, (a dress maker’s wheel also works well) the students will perforate along the contour lines of their drawings approximately every 1/8 inch to prepare a cartoon for the fresco process. Keep for later use. Day 3-4: Discussion: Ask the students if any of them have ever had a broken bone that needed a cast. Discuss briefly the purpose and processes of applying a plaster cast. Relate the story of Frida Kahlo’s bus accident by showing the PowerPoint Frida’s Corsets/ Braces slides 1-4. Stop the PowerPoint and show the short video dramatization (10 minutes) which follows the journey in Frida’s own words of the application and endurance of her orthopedic corsets. Complete PowerPoint (slides 5-16) discussing the specific elements of the corsets: themes, designs, colors and personal meanings behind each application. Days 5-8: Forming the cast armature for the corset: Using a piece of 8 x11 sturdy cardboard, arch it in a rounded chest form and tape the sides securely to a larger piece of cardboard. The top edge of the armature could be cut in a sloping line to appear as though it would fit under the arms. Applying the plaster strips: Cut enough plaster strips to cover the armature with two layers. In a bowl of warm water, submerge the strips, one at a time, and lay over the armature. Rub the strips so they lay smooth and the edges blend into the cardboard and the other layers. Repeat until all the strips have been used. Stuff newspaper under the armature for support if necessary. While the plaster is slightly damp, lay the perforated sketches on the corset and pouch over the holes with the pounce pad filled with chalk dust. If plaster dries it can be redampened with a little water on the fingers. Once the image has been transferred onto the plaster begin to improvise by painting the contour images with acrylic paints. Once complete, the finished fresco can be sprayed with a matt varnish. Note: This is only a simulated fresco. Actual frescos involve successive coats of specially prepared plaster, lime, sand, and sometimes marble dust. Closing: Clean up and discussion of artwork processes that need review. Assessment: Daily work in sketchbooks and rubric Modifications: Adjustments and modifications made for each grade level. Considerations include: levels of difficulty, simplification of required steps, length of project time and details. Materials Needed: Computer and LCD projector Frida’s Corsets found at www.roaring-girl.com/productions/frida-kkahlos-corset/ on Vimeo.com/12076551 Sketchbooks Copies of Frida and Diego’s artworks Cardboard Tape Plaster strips (Sax’s Professional Plaster Wrap item # 9-350081-705/ .5lb., 1 roll/ 4”W x 180” L.) Newspaper Pounce pads with chalk Acrylic paint Brushes Matte varnish (optional) Notes: The length of this lesson plan is an approximate time line. Of course, length of the lesson plan will vary according to the students’ ages, levels of competency and teachers’ class schedules. Forming the cast armature for the corset can be accomplished in many ways and size may depend on resources available. The one selected for this lesson plan used recycled materials already available.