Figure 1. Build-a-bug activity example.
Try your hand at an art making activity inspired by contemporary artwork in the exhibition Glimmers of the Radiant Real. This is a travelling exhibition organized by The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, and curated by Ruth Jones and Sam Mogelonsky. To find out about the exhibition, and where else it has travelled, check out the exhibition’s own website: www.glimmersoftheradiantreal.ca.
This activity is designed for adults teaching elementary school students from grade 1 – 3.
This activity fulfills Curricular Competencies in BC’s New Curriculum for the following subjects and classes:
To see relevant connections between this activity and BC’s New Curriculum, see downloadable PDF “Curricular Competencies Related to Build-a-bug: Activity Inspired by Contemporary Artist Cole Swanson.”
KEY CONCEPTS AND VOCABULARY
Exhibition | Glimmer | Monument | Installation art | Gold leaf
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Cole Swanson is an artist who lives in Toronto, Canada. He makes art about the world around him. Cole is known for making artwork out of objects that he finds in his everyday life, like bugs that he finds in his house. He is one of the artists whose work is in the exhibition called Glimmers of the Radiant Real.
Through this activity participants will:
ESTIMATED TIME: 30-60 MIN
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
An exhibition is a group of artworks or objects shown together. Exhibitions can take place at art galleries or museums. An exhibition may show works of art by one artist, or works of art by many artists together. Exhibitions can last only a few weeks or as long as several years.
Glimmers of the Radiant Real is an exhibition of artwork by nine different artists. The exhibition opened at The Reach Gallery Museum on January 23, 2020. All of the artworks in this exhibition use materials that glimmer (or show a little bit of light), sparkle, shimmer, or shine. Some of the artwork is made with glass, gold, foil, plastic, and even pearls!
You can take a virtual tour of Glimmers of the Radiant Real by watching the 3-episode series of online videos at: www.thereach.ca/athome.
Figure 2. Installation view of Glimmers of the Radiant Real at The Reach Gallery Museum. Photo: SITE Photography.
WORK OF ART IN Glimmers of the Radiant Real
This activity connects to Cole Swanson’s artwork titled “Monument,” in the exhibition Glimmers of the Radiant Real.
Figure 3. Cole Swanson’s artwork called Monument that is part of the exhibition Glimmers of the Radiant Real at The Reach in Abbotsford. This image is taken from its earlier installation at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa.
Figure 4 and 5. Cole Swanson, Monument (detail), 2018. Housefly, gold leaf.
Why did Cole Swanson call his artwork Monument?
A monument is a statue made to remember someone important, like the Prime Minister of Canada or the Queen of England. Usually monuments are built in parks or other public places, where they can be seen by everybody. Have you seen a monument somewhere before?
Cole Swanson named his artwork to make the humble bugs he found around his house seem much more important.
What is installation art?
Cole Swanson’s Monument is different from a painting on canvas or a drawing on a piece of paper. It’s an example of something called installation art. Installation art can be made of practically anything, and usually what it is made of is important to what it means. Installation art uses objects to transform a space into something special.
How did Cole Swanson make this work of art?
Cole Swanson spent five years creating Monument.
He started by collecting insects that he found in his house, then he painted them with gold leaf. Gold leaf is a very fine kind of foil. Like tin foil from your kitchen but much more delicate. It is actually lighter than a leaf! This is what gold leaf looks like:
Cole Swanson used a tiny paintbrush to apply the gold leaf to the insect bodies.
Figure 6. Cole Swanson, Monument (detail).
DID YOU KNOW?
Did you know that there are more than 14 different kinds of bugs in Cole Swanson’s work of installation art called Monument? If you watch the online tour of Glimmers of the Radiant Real: Episode 1, you will get a good look at the work of art. See how many bugs you recognize.
In this activity, you’ll be making your own bug by using materials that you find inside your house!
You can make your bug look like a real bug (like a bumblebee or a beetle). Or, your bug can look like something from your imagination!
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
What different kinds of bugs can you find if you look around your house and yard? Can you find these bugs?
Are there any bugs that you saw that aren’t on this list? If so, draw a picture of this bug on a separate piece of paper.
KEEP TRACK & GIVE BACK
If you use this free resource with your students at school / at home, we’d love to hear from you! Send an email to Diana Hiebert (Curator of Learning and Community Engagement at The Reach) at email@example.com, with your comments including the number and age range of participants. This statistical information is important to us as a not-for-profit organization and will allow us to continue offering this kind of content.