Cutout Projects > Shape of Fear


This project aims to explore abstraction and metaphor through large drawings based on subjects that students fear.

Step 1: Sketchbook
-- Make a list of at least 10 things you fear, both physically and emotionally.
-- Some words that provoke fear are: snakes, rats, death, germs, racism, roaches, fire, cancer, violence, damnation, spiders, war, guns
-- Think of strong, associative images that may access the feeling of the word so that it becomes more encompassing and may allude to other connections. For example, death equals dead bird, or a museum bird with a tag. This image suggests death but also conjures up environmental and sociological associations.
-- In your sketchbook, create one representational and one abstract thumbnail drawing for each fear (20 thumbnails total). Label these thumbnails and present them to the class.

Step 2: Research
-- Research contemporary and historical artists who use fear as their subject matter.
-- Find 3 different artists that interested you in this topic and print at least 3 artworks from each. Print them out and tape them into your sketchbook.
-- Write a 1-2 paragraph reflection about the artworks and how various elements that inspire your project.

Step 3: Cutouts
-- Decide on a fear to from your sketchbook to recreate as a large cutout project that is a minimum of 4' in at least 1 direction.
-- Begin with silhouette or background shapes that you can build on top of.
-- Lean into how shape becomes metaphor: consider the suggestive power of each shape's form and placement.
-- Focus on how to abstract an object through reshaping, distorting, cutting, reassembling, and morphing.
-- Embellish your design with a variety of media: acrylic paint, chalk, pastel, colored paper, tissue paper, etc.

Step 4: Group Installation
-- Individual compositions will be arranged as a large collaborative piece that will require group participation.
-- Discuss the flow of the entire composition.
-- Break up into small groups to install various sections of the installation.
-- Once everything is hung up, critique individual components and how these components function within the whole installation composition.

Some artists, books, and actors to consider in connection with this assignment are:
-- Kara Walker
-- Joan Miro
-- Kiki Smith
-- Eva Hesse
-- Peetah Coyne
-- Louise Bourgeois