Art in the Shadows
Have you ever tried to create shadow shapes on the wall at night? Shadows are a silent but powerful presence in our stories, films and our everyday lives—and they may have even inspired the first cave paintings. Today, we'll explore the science of light and shadow, meet artists who use shadows in their work, and check out wall-sized creations inspired by graffiti artists working in the shadows. Get ready to spend some time in the light because today we're painting with the dark!
Ask About Today
What did you learn about shadows today? Why do you think the size of shadows changes over time outdoors?
What items in our house could make the most interesting shadows?
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What's in a shadow? Artist Vincent Bal learned that shadows have a lot more to offer than meets the eye, and even created his own style of art using them! Watch these videos to learn about "Shadowology" and see some of his creative work.
Shadows and the Sun
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Shadowology Short Film
Street Art Out of the Shadows
Some art, like Vincent Bal's, is made OF shadows. Other art, like street art and graffiti art, is often made IN the shadows, appearing overnight on empty walls, abandoned buildings, or train car sides. In New Orleans, aerosol artist Brandan "BMike" Odums creates giant, graffiti-inspired murals that celebrate Black history and culture. Get to know him and take a look at his warehouse Studio Be in this video.
A Short History of Graffiti
Graffiti goes back at least as far as ancient Rome, but the debate about it continues to this day: Is it art, or crime? Watch this video from TED-Ed and see what you think.
Ready to make your own shadow art? You'll need paper (the larger the better), coloring utensils, an interestingly shaped object, and a strong light source.
Make Some Shadow Art
Start with a strong light source, like a desk lamp. Feel free to use the sun as your light source if it’s sunny.
Then find a large object with an interesting shape that can stand on its own. A bike, a plant, or a cup or vase are great options! Find something with gaps or holes in it so the light shines through.
Finally, place your object where there is a strong light source and shadow. Lay down your paper where you see the shadow and carefully trace the outlines of the shadow your object creates, or use the edges of the shadow to create a whole new image, like Vincent Bal does. (Click the button to see more examples if you want some inspiration!) Color it in if you like, or leave it as a simple outline.
Share your work! We'd love to see it. Ask a parent to email a photo to us or share it on Instagram or Twitter by tagging @CampKinda.
Have you ever tried to make shapes with your shadow? For this activity, you can go outside if it’s sunny or find a strong light source, like a lamp, in your house.
Make sure you can see the shadow of your body clearly. Use your body to create a shadow that looks like each letter of the alphabet (and make sure to use your whole body, not just your hands!).
Can you spell your name with your shadow? How many words can you spell? Bonus points if you can get someone in your household to guess what word you spelled!