My students took their enthusiasm from reading The Sixty-Eight Rooms, by Marianne Malone, and created their own peephole dioramas. We referred to the Otherworldly exhibit held at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City, which I saw with my Art21 colleagues. We had created our own dioramas using a variety of materials, and showcased our finished work at the museum. Each had a unique perspective and engaged the viewer in a narrative informed by the design. My students each determined the look they wanted by adapting cardboard, paper, paint, designer fabric remnants, and Model Magic for furniture and accessories. Each had to determine which aspects and details of an interior space would define the person who lived there. Which details would be omitted and why?
“First we shape our buildings, then they shape us” --Winston Churchill, 1943
Or do they? As my students explored interior spaces and the view from their space, they also had to consider what interests and needs this individual had. What was happening at that moment for this character when time stood still?
Each student created the diorama and wrote a story about the character. They recorded these last week, perhaps a podcast of these stories will come next. What I thought fascinating was that these characters were not defined by the space in which they lived... That was just a part of the story. The rest was "out of the box."
The peephole dioramas are on display on our Artsonia Gallery.
If your students have read The Sixty-Eight Rooms, I encourage you to give Escape from Thorne Mansion Interactive by the Art Institute of Chicago a try. You'll find a review by the Teaching Palette here: Escape from Thorne Mansion Interactive. I found it was good to allow students to partner with each other. Also, be sure your school filters don't block the pop-ups! You need those for the clues!