The Secret Life of Objects: Guardian Monsters

This lesson was produced in conjunction with Northern Clay Center’s 2021 exhibition, The Secret Lives of Objects, to accompany a virtually presented panel featuring artists from the exhibition. In The Secret Lives of Objects, curators Pattie Chalmers and Jill Foote-Hutton brought together artists who imagine the life of a ceramic object beyond the pedestal through drawing, collage, and film. In conjunction with the exhibition, a panel of exhibiting artists shared about the broader artistic storyline in which their objects fit and live within. Artists shared about the development of ideas and symbols in their work and incorporation of cultural and historical references that work together to form a world in which these objects come to life and play a significant role. Here is a recording of the Storytelling for Artists and Educators Discussion Panel.

View the virtual tour of The Secret Life of Objects. 

Two lesson plans were inspired by the concept of this exhibition and the content shared during the panel. Mythological Masks is a clay lesson that can be adapted for grades K – 6, and Guardian Monsters explores clay sculpture with adaptations for grades 4 –12. Guided by these lessons and by the work of artists from The Secret Lives of Objects, students will consider the world that their creatures will inhabit and develop and generate original artistic ideas including a story to accompany and explain the life that their creations take on and the role that they play in this imaginative space. Students will then learn clay handbuilding and tools for creating three-dimensional work to bring their creatures to existence in this realm.