Surrealist Collage

Surrealists liked to paint as if in a dream world.

This is why Surrealism doesn't always make sense.

Surrealist paintings even create an unsettling feeling with the viewer, much like dreams do.

I've always been haunted by such paintings by the artist Giorgio de Chirico, such as The Mystery and Melancholy of a Street.

The thing just gives me the heebie jeebies. Heh.

I wanted to give my students the opportunity to create wacky, Surrealist-inspired collages, minus the haunting, melancholy feeling. These are elementary students, you know. A good way to find images that can be juxtaposed in an interesting way is to use magazine cut-outs. Finally, all the magazines I have laying around my home that I never want to throw out because you just never know when you're gonna need them have been put to good use.

The cut-outs, along with regular pieces of scrapbooking paper gave this project that authentic randomness that is Surrealism. The collages turned out really cool. The students had a blast going through all of the magazine scraps and reinterpreting them in their collage. Oh, one handy tip is to be mindful of the magazine cut-outs that you allow your students to look through. I didn't just toss stacks of magazines in front of them. I went through each mag, tore out what I thought would be great to use and collected a pile that way. InStyle ads are very suggestive, and you don't want to pollute the minds of the very young, now do we?

  • Since you'll be somewhat censoring the ads you are presenting to your class, it'll take you a few days to prepare for this lesson to collect everything you need.
  • Some things I collected were giant pics of food, skateboards, animals, interesting backgrounds, make-up ads, random body parts, etc.
  • Though the students could create a perfectly good collage comprised of all mag cut-outs, offer pieces of multi-colored collage paper as well.
  • I prefer to use good quality glue-sticks when creating a collage. It is just tacky enough to put your images down, but it doesn't make the whole process overly sloppy. I don't recommend Elmer's Glue because the students get carried away with it. Rubber cement is great, as long as the container has a brush inside. It's actually much more archival than a glue stick.
  • The collages can be created on poster board, Bristol board, construction paper, whatever paper you have on hand that is sturdy enough to take the weight of the cut-outs and glue. Also, the size is completely up to you and the time frame you have available. In my 45-50 minute-long class, a 9 X 12 is large enough.
  • Encourage students to be neat with their cutting skills, taking their cuts all the way down to the edge of their images. It just makes the overall appearance that much nicer.
  • The finished collages were so amazing and very humorous! We had a good laugh at some of the random ideas that were generated from this project.
The collage above was created by a 5th grader.

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  1. This is a great lesson! I will have to try it with my classes. Thank you for sharing!

    Lauren Taylor

  2. I love, love your there a way I can subscribe to your posts through e-mail as they are posted?

    I use feedburner on my blog.. my google reader is way too full and e-mail has been easier to keep up with my favorite blogs....

    again, your art blogs rocks



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