It’s mid-morning on a Tuesday and a group of sophomores are making Moche figureheads.
Here’s what this looks like:
The Moche were a group of people that lived in Northern Peru from 100 to 750 A.D. They were known for their pottery. Here are some examples from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
And here is an example of a Moche-inspired piece from Cristo Rey’s sophomores:
The project has some basic requirements — it has to feature a head and neck, and the students have to create it from clay coils. Geometric forms and sculptural elements need to be included.
But once the criteria has been met, students are free to “branch off,” art teacher Mr. Dan Shapiro said. “That’s what I find amazing,” he said. “A student will look at their piece and decide it’s no longer a head, it’s an elephant.”
Another student had difficulty sculpting eyes, so she put “the most beautiful” pair of sunglasses on her figurehead. “Granted, that might have been a cop-out,” Mr. Shapiro said. “But really, it was a beautiful solution.”
In the past, students in sophomore ceramics — a requirement for everyone — sculpted shoes instead of Moche. But Mr. Shapiro wanted to try something new this year. After this project, students will create three-dimensional clay postcards and then sculpt their own tea pots. At the end of the year, the class will finish with a tea ceremony.