Artist Action Figures!

As a child of the 70s, like many my age, some of my first creative endeavors involved imagining new episodes of Star Wars with my Luke, Han, Obi-Wan, and Leia action figures (and perhaps we all did a better job at thinking of new movies than Lucas ended up with...). I never thought too much about these adventures in relationship to art, but recently, I read this great passage by artist and teacher Renee Shaw in Video Art for the Classroom:

The ability to animate starts at an early age with an understanding of what it means to have an inner life...children learn about the world they live in by animating everything around them. Animation, perhaps, is one of the most natural types of play children do.
Pictured above are the creations of artist Mike Leavitt - action figures of Dale Chihuly, Salvador Dali, Vincent Van Gogh, and even lesser known contemporaries like the anime-inspired Luke Chueh (mentioned here earlier). You can see a whole gallery of his diverse figures here. Looking at Leavitt's work, and thinking about Shaw's statement about child's play as art makes me think that there's a good lesson in creating action figures in the art room.

Leavitt explains what materials he uses and how he creates his figures on his process page. He uses easily obtained materials like styrofoam and polymer clay. You can watch him work in these videos:

There are infinite possibilities- although having the students create action-figure versions of themselves (as super heroes? transformers? ...Jedis?) would be an interesting place to start.


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