A scientific illustrator has an important job - to capture nature's forms and details in the most realistic way possible so that others may learn through their work. We see their art in textbooks, museums, and films. Other types of illustrators, like storybook illustrators Ezra Jack Keats or Lane Smith, focus more on the creative side of illustration, using artistic license. My fifth graders really enjoyed the process of creating these symmetrical assemblages using observation from life and interpretation of texture through materials. Inspired by the beautifully realistic sculptures of North Carolina artist Yumi Okita, students drew thumbnails of various insects and selected one for the final work. Okita uses fabrics, wire, and threads to craft her slightly larger than life insects, making it easier to see the details.
Using the folded paper method, our insects came out perfectly symmetrical. We began with a pair of complementary colored papers for contrast, then started building up the shapes and textures using a variety of materials like yarn, fabric, feathers, shiny sticker paper, craft foam, and cotton. Students were really engaged in the process of material selection and finding just the right scrap to fit their needs. The pictures here really don't do justice to the students' work -the variety of textures is really beautiful in person.