Altered Books Unit
Dates: January 3-30, 2006
Teacher: Darden Bradshaw—Studio Art
Grade: 9-12th Advanced and AP Studio Art
Estimated time: 4 weeks
Overview: What do books symbolize? What do books do? Consider the overused aphorism, ―Don’t judge a
book by its cover.‖ Have you ever picked up a book because its cover was decadent and beautiful but found
yourself disappointed with what you found on the inside? We often make assumptions about others based on
what we hear; we perceive and label others based on what we see yet as you know sometimes what is visible
to the outside world can be misinterpreted. Furthermore, we are many things that aren’t visible to the
outside world. This altered book artwork is about addressing the idea of being ―read‖. What ―story of you‖
do you want to present to the world? Is it wise to ―judge‖ another by their ―cover‖? Are there aspects or
―chapters‖ of your story that others have never had an opportunity to ―read‖? What is the ―text‖ of you? Is
your story written in prose or poetry? What format does your story take-that of a comic book, a zine, a
biography or a mystery?
The challenge in this artwork is to take a book and alter it to reflect some aspect or multiple aspects of
one’s identity. This can be achieved in variety of ways. Listed here are a few examples to jumpstart the
thinking process—by no means is this list exhaustive! You can cut out part of the interior of the book to
create an interior space or shadow-box, take a book apart and reassemble it in an unusual way, alter the text
or draw on the pages, highlight particular words in the book repeatedly, white out words to create a new
story, quilt the pages of a book together, create origami out of the pages of a book, etc.
Type of lesson: Three dimensional mixed media exploration with recycled books.
Connection to standards:
Standard 1: Creating Art
1 AV-P1: Create works of art that apply media, techniques and processes with controlled skill, craftsmanship,
confidence, understanding and sensitivity.
PO 1. Apply media, techniques and processes with controlled skill in artwork.
PO 2. Create artwork demonstrating skill and craftsmanship and sensitivity to the media.
PO 3. Assess progression of skill, craftsmanship, confidence, understanding and sensitivity through
an established criteria in one’s own artwork.
1 AV-P3: Reflect on and articulate reasons form artistic decisions.
PO 1. State reasons for making artistic decisions.
PO 2. Evaluate the success or areas for improvement seen in the artwork.
PO 3. Justify the evaluation of the artwork.
Standard 2: Art in Context
2AV-P1: Analyze and interpret how elements of time and place influence the visual characteristics, content,
purpose and message of works of art.
PO 1. Demonstrate the factors responsible for influencing works of art.
PO 2. Analyze the ways in which a work of art expresses a point of view of the time and place in
which it was created.
2 AV-P5: Analyze contemporary art issues and influences on own work and that of others.
PO 1. Identify contemporary issues that exist in art.
PO 2. Recognize influences of contemporary art issues in their collected body of artworks.
PO 3. Articulate the influences of contemporary art issues in their collected body of work.
Standard 3: Art as Inquiry
3 AV-P1: Identify and critique the reasons for the success or need for improvement in a progression of
their own works.
PO 1. Identify the reasons for success in one’s own artwork.
PO 2. Justify the reasons for success in one’s own artwork.
PO 3. Evaluate the need for improvement in one’s own artwork.
3 AV-P3: Identify intentions of those creating artworks, compare the implications of the various purposes
and justify analysis of purposes in particular works.
PO 1. Identify and analyze an artist’s intentions in an artwork.
PO 2. Justify the analysis of the artist’s intentions.
Objectives: At the completion of this unit, each student will be able to:
Define ―identity‖ personally and as a group.
Explore work done by other artists that address this theme.
Define perception and stereotype and the ways perceptions influence stereotypes.
Discuss the ways perceptions influence stereotypes.
Discuss the ways Chuck Close’s life informs his work.
Discuss Hollis Sigler’s use of cancer as subject matter and objects as stand-ins for people in her
Define aspects of identity expressed in the artwork of Chuck Close and Hollis Sigler.
Consider and define aspect of own identity as content for their own artwork.
Discuss the ways Kara Walker’s life events inform her work.
Become familiar with the work and life of Kerry James Marshall and John Feodorov.
Define the influences in the work of Kerry James Marshall and John Feodorov.
Develop ideas and thumbnail sketches that reflect process and thinking regarding creation of a work
Develop an idea that is visually translated into a work of art.
Connect their in progress work of art with personal identity.
Use time wisely and effectively in class.
Provide and receive constructive feedback in peer group.
Determine areas of weakness and strength in artwork of peers.
Use and explore the transfer processes of citrasolv and gel medium.
Communicate potential uses of transfer process in their own artwork.
Participates in conversation with instructor and peers regarding their process and progress of their
Determine the value of an artist statement.
Connect ideas with visual images that reflect idea or theme.
Create a cohesive work of art that includes visual imagery that comments on and/or elucidates
Materials: Handouts with guidelines, syllabus and criteria, slide images of Chuck Close and Hollis Sigler,
images of artwork by Kerry James Marshall, John Feodorov, and Kara Walker, recycled book artworks
created by other artists. Books-various shapes, sizes and titles, hole punches, x-acto knives, scissors, gloss
medium, glue and glue sticks, assorted papers – handmade, vellum, repositionable glue, snaps, hooks, wire,
screws, brads, crayons, oil pastels, contact paper, wallpaper, scraps, watercolors, gesso, acrylic paint, fabric
pieces, markers, ribbon, lace, collage items- dog tags, charms, game pieces, buttons, Xeroxed copies of
images for transfers and Citrasolv for transfers
Introduction of prompt through visual imagery and altered books created by other artists. Idea
development through various exercises that explore identity, language, and visual imagery. Creation of
Begin studio work and alteration of original book. Demonstration of Xerox transfer and gel-medium transfer
processes. Discussion of importance of layering imagery to create complex visuals.
In progress peer critiques. Using feedback from peer critique, continue studio work on altered books
ensuring cohesiveness and consideration of craftsmanship.
Finalize artwork and develop artist statements. Final critique.