Collecting Lesson 4: Project Ideas

Individual and Group Projects using Collecting Practice
Student collection of correspondance with German pen pal

Students construct a display based on principles of collecting. Brainstorming leads to a project proposal, a work of art and finally a critique session of other students’ work using critical analysis and evaluation skills.

Subjects: Art, Aesthetics, Critical Analysis, Collaboration, Cultural Studies

Grades: 6-12

Suggested Time Frame: 

Total time: 1½-2 weeks 


Personal Collecting 

  • Students describe methods and meanings in personal collections
  • Students assemble personal collections over a specific period of time
  • Students write a proposal plan for the creation of an artwork that incorporates the collecting practice
  • Students critique works of art with peers and assess how the artwork using collecting communicates individual messages

 Professional Collecting 

  • Students research professions and their collecting practices
  • Students connect thematic issues to professional collections
  • Students create artworks from outlined ideas
  • Students critique works of art with peers

Institutional Collecting 

  • Students compile collections reflecting pop culture
  • Students plan a strategy to convey a specific message through the collection
  • Students create collaborative displays (objects, images, sounds, etc.)
  • Students collect and compile responses to the display
  • Students interpret meaning from collected data
Student writing about a personal collection
Student writing about a personal collection

Personal Collecting Project


Personal Collecting Project Prompts 
  1. Review the Personal Collecting column from the original Brainstorming List from Lesson 1.
  2. Discuss the following:
  3. - What do you collect?

    - Does your personal collection(s) reflect your personality? Why or why not?

    - Does your personal collection reflect American culture today?

    - How did you decide what to collect?

    - How do you go about collecting (i.e. shopping for things in stores, collecting music on-line, obtaining things from friends)?

  4. Create a collection over a week’s time. Collections can be actual objects or they can be data and experiences collected through different media, such as writing, photography, sound recording and video.
  5. Teacher note: If students are collecting on their own time, then they can work on another lesson during class. Appropriate lessons during this time should include design principles that apply student knowledge of grid compositions such as repetition, movement, balance, scale and unit. 

  6. Project Proposal: Write a project proposal describing how you will utilize the artistic practice of collecting to communicate an aspect of your personality.  Use the Personal Collecting Project Prompts to aid this process.
  7. Create a work of art based on a personal collection. Sample project ideas:
  8. - Create a sculpture using the objects collected.

    - Create a drawing or painting of objects collected.

    - Collect your thoughts or experiences for a week and make a two-dimensional artwork using text.

    - Record everything your parent or a friend says to you and make a two- or three-dimensional artwork using the text.

    - Collect your doodles from phone conversations with your friends over an extended period of time. Transform these doodles into an artwork.

  9. Critique the work with your peers. Review the written proposals from Step 4 in this lesson to aid evaluation.
  10. - What worked?

    - What did not?

    - Does the work convey something unintended?

    - Is the new idea better than your original idea? Why or why not?

    - What would you change or how would take this project even further?

Pictures documenting the archeological process artist Mark Dion used in the Thames Dig Project  
Pictures documenting the archeological process artist Mark Dion used in the Thames Dig Project  

Professional Collecting:

  1. Review Brainstorming Web from Lesson 1 and review Other Professionals that collect. (see student example grid).
  2. Choose a profession to research. Examples:
  3. - Political Scientist: someone who studies government and politics, often investigating and collecting data concerning voting, political parties, public opinion, the nature of states and the functions of local, state level and national governments.

    - Sociologist: someone who studies human social behavior. Sociologists study broad issues such as bureaucracy, community, family and social changes, as well as specific problems like crime, divorce and substance abuse. They try to identify the natural laws that regulate human behavior in social contexts.

    - Other examples include: Demographer, Meteorologist, Epidemiologist, Lawyer and Biographer.

  4. Research the chosen profession and its collecting practice. Determine the following:
  5. - What type of information or objects are collected?

    - Why is this information collected (purpose)?

    - How this information is collected (methods)?

    - How is the material compiled and displayed

  6. Choose an issue or subject you are interested in. This issue should fall under the research of your chosen profession. Outline your ideas: how will you collect around this idea, what will you collect and what kind of artwork could you create out of this collection? Examples:

    - As a political scientist, a student might want to take issue with the media representation of a political candidate. S/he might propose to collect newspaper headlines for one to two weeks dealing with the political campaign and then use the collection to create a visual work from material that represents the student’s point of view.

    - As a sociologist, a student might choose the issue of appearance and beauty in teen culture. S/he might collect, in writing or audio recording, statements from their peers about beauty. The final project could be a sound piece or a written teen philosophy about beauty edited by the student.

  7. Create your collection of data, objects, experiences, for one to two weeks.
  8. Create artwork.
  9. Critique the works. Use the rubrics below to assess student growth.
Display created by Schenley High School students created exploring institutional collecting
Display created by Schenley High School students created exploring institutional collecting

Institutional Collecting:

  1. Collect: Compile a collection with your peer group that represents contemporary youth culture. This collection could be the actual objects or photographs of objects or a combination of both: Labels, Packaging from Software, Computer games, CDs, Technology, Accessories, News clippings, Photographs, Food wrappers, Books, etc.
  2. Brainstorm: In small groups, brainstorm four different methods of display, determining how you will exhibit the collection in order to perform these functions:

    - To educate the public about youth culture.

    - To create awe or shock or a sense of “wow” about the youth generation.

    - To show a narrow point of view about the generation.

    - To display mundane or non-extraordinary items that tell a story.

  3. Students should consider the following in their displays:
  4. - What is included and excluded from the collection?

    - How are items labeled?

    - How does the actual display appear (cabinet, hung on wall, put in a case by itself, displayed in a box with a bunch of other things, etc.)?

  5. Present Ideas: Each small group presents ideas to the class. The class should vote on one idea for each method of display from step 2 (educational, the wow factor, the narrow point of view factor and the mundane narrative).
  6. Create Display: Working together, create the displays using the objects, photographs or both. Place displays in a visible location within the school.
  7. Collect Response Data: After the course of a week poll other peers/classes to analyze the public interpretation of the display.

Warhol Education Rubrics

Click the Warhol Rubric headers below to reveal associated rubrics to which this lesson applies.

Critical Thinking
Creative Process
Historical Context
Student Showcase
Collecting School Project: Arsenal Middle SchoolCollecting: Pittsburgh H.S. for the Creative and Performing ArtsCollecting: Pleasant Hills Middle SchoolCollecting: Schenley High SchoolCollecting: Steel Valley High SchoolCollecting Youth Culture: SingaporeCollecting: School 133 in Samara, RussiaCollecting: Childrens Art Center in Metallurg, Samara, RussiaCollecting: School 150 in Samara, RussiaCollecting: School 2 in Belaya Kalitva, RussiaCollecting: School 3 in Belaya Kalitva, RussiaCollecting: School 6 in Belaya Kalitva, Russia