Wednesday, January 29, 2014

An "Anthropomorphic" Art Doll Challenge

Anthropomorphic characters by Edith Brown Kirkwood
Theme: Doll Characterizations Influenced by Childhood Literature
Subject: Depicting animals with human characteristics
Historical Connections: Anthropomorphism or personification is any attribution of human characteristics (or characteristics assumed to belong only to humans) to other animals, non-living things, phenomena, material states, objects or abstract concepts, such as organizations, governments, spirits or deities. The term was coined in the mid 1700s. Examples include animals and plants and forces of nature such as winds, rain or the sun depicted as creatures with human motivations, and/or the abilities to reason and converse. The term derives from the combination of the Greek ἄνθρωπος (ánthrōpos), “human” and μορφή (morphē), “shape” or “form”.
      Building on the popularity of fables and fairy tales, specifically children’s literature began to emerge in the 19th century with works such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) by Lewis Carroll, The Adventures of Pinocchio (1883) by Carlo Collodi and The Jungle Book (1894) by Rudyard Kipling, all employing anthropomorphic elements. This continued in the 20th century with many of the most popular titles having anthropomorphic characters, examples being The Tales of Beatrix Potter (1901 onwards), The Wind in the Willows (1908) by Kenneth Grahame, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis and Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) by A. A. Milne. In many of these stories the animals can be seen as representing facets of human personality and character. As John Rowe Townsend remarks, discussing The Jungle Book in which the boy Mowgli must rely on his new friends the bear Baloo and the black panther Bagheera, “The world of the jungle is in fact both itself and our world as well”. Another notable work is George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
      The fantasy genre developed from mythological, fairy tale and Romance motifs and characters, sometimes with anthropomorphic animals. The best-selling examples of the genre are The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954–1955), both by J. R. R. Tolkien, books peopled with talking creatures such as ravens, spiders and the dragon Smaug and a multitude of anthropomorphic goblins and elves. John D. Rateliff calls this the “Doctor Dolittle Theme” in his book The History of the Hobbit and Tolkien saw this anthropomorphism as closely linked to the emergence of human language and myth: “…The first men to talk of ‘trees and stars’ saw things very differently. To them, the world was alive with mythological beings… To them the whole of creation was “myth-woven and elf-patterned”.’
      In the 20th century, the children’s picture book market expanded massively. Perhaps a majority of picture books have some kind of anthropomorphism, with popular examples being The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969) by Eric Carle and The Gruffalo (1999) by Julia Donaldson.
      Anthropomorphism in literature and other media led to a sub-culture known as Furry fandom, which promotes and creates stories and artwork involving anthropomorphic animals, and the examination and interpretation of humanity through anthropomorphism.
Materials: listing
  • Newsprint
  • Paper clay
  • Acrylic paint
  • Masking tape
  • White glue
  • Tin foil
  • Gesso or paint primer (If you are an doll artist, use the Gesso.)
  • Varnish
  • Paint brush and a variety of tools for shaping the creature
  • wide variety of sewing notions and fabrics
  • cotton batting
Methods of Construction: process
  1. After selecting an anthropomorphic creature from one of the many resources listed below or above, students should make preliminary drawings of what their doll will eventually look like.
  2. Students will then crush and mask the basic shape of their creature’s head from a combination of newsprint and foil wrapped around a hollow tube.
  3. Crush paper and mask the entire head thoroughly.
  4. Rub down the figure with glue and layer of newsprint strips on top of it as your work.
  5. Apply the paper clay evenly over your creature and shape features with tools.
  6. Layer with a paintbrush, a coat of Gesso or paint primer and let the figure’s head dry.
  7. Paint your creature’s head and then finish the surface with varnish.
  8. Construct a fabric body based upon the initial drawings representing an anthropomorphic doll.
  9. Dress the doll with attention of detail.
Expectations/Objectives/Goals: listing
  • Students will interpret a two-dimensional drawing into a three-dimensional object.
  • Students will use simple shapes to interpret a three dimensional concept.
  • Students will discuss both the differences and similarities between human dolls and anthropomorphic dolls during a slide presentation.
Exhibit: Finished figures will be exhibited inside a showcase located on the school property or be photographed by the instructor and uploaded to an internet forum/blog.
Feedback/Assessment: Students will either participate in an online discussion, classroom critiques or be expected to fill out a self-assessment form.
Include the following on a label with your finished project:
  • A Title
  • Your Name
  • The date the project was completed
  • The materials used
  • An approximate size

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