Juried Biennial Clay

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Juried exhibition: Clay 

By Mary Erickson, Ph.D., with Allison Lee, Arizona art teacher

Sweet Memories is a set of lessons designed in conjunction with the Juried Biennial: Clay exhibition at the Gallery at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

Preview the Juried Biennial: Clay PowerPoint
Printer-friendly version of the Overview PDF


  • Theme in Life: Our lives are touched by fleeting moments remembered long after they are gone.
  • Theme in Art: Artists can capture fleeting experiences in their art.

Key Questions

 look  LOOK: What textures can I see?
 Jack_Choose  CHOOSE: What textures will I use in my artwork?
 learn  LEARN: Can I get ideas for my art from my own culture (or group)?


Community Connections

People value short-lived objects or experiences such as the smell of orange blossoms, the taste of spicy chili, the crunching sound of walking in cold snow, the seasonal yellow flowers of a Palo Verde tree or the soft feel of velvet. The smells, tastes, sounds, colors and feel of everyday pleasures are not easily preserved and may be more valued because experience of them is so fleeting.

Food carries special personal, social and/or cultural meanings. The experience of eating food is also short-lived but can still hold significant meaning, especially when it relates to personal memory. The memories and feelings associated with the sight, smell and taste of specific foods can bring back personal memories such as a celebratory slice of wedding cake, making Christmas tamales in grandma’s kitchen or conversations with family over a plate of spaghetti. 

By creating images of favorite foods, artists can capture and preserve the momentary experience of eating food for themselves and/or to share with others.

- clay
- plastic bags for wet storage
- clay tools
- rolling pins to make slabs
- kiln
- colored and clear glazes
- glaze brushes
- black background paper, undecorated large plates, or small trays for group presentations.
OPTIONAL: (Secondary) plates/platters for presentation


Clay Lesson One Banner

Lesson 1: Getting in Touch with Texture - PDF

Resources and supplies
Getting in Touch with Texture - PowerPoint
Juried Biennial: Clay Exhibition Preview PowerPoint
OPTIONAL: saltine crackers

Clay treats 

Lesson 2: Exploring Small Things Around Us PDF

Resources and supplies
Questor Questions: Exploring Small Things Around Us Worksheet PDF
Juried Biennial: Clay Preview PowerPoint

clay lesson 3 

Lesson 3: Sweet Treats (Secondary Grades) PDF

Resources and supplies
Sweet Treats (Secondary Grades) PowerPoint
Tool Notes Worksheet PDF
Tool Notes Completed Worksheet PDF
OPTIONAL: you may wish to show slides 4-11 from Lesson 4 to introduce clay tools and their uses.

Clay Lesson 4

Lesson 4: Sweet Treats (Elementary Grades) PDF

Resources and supplies
Questor Questions: Exploring Small Things Around Us Worksheet PDF
Juried Biennial: Clay Preview PowerPoint



Linda Crain for dessert photos from her world travels.
Jon Paul Escobedo, The Music Store in Mesa, AZ for permission to use photograph of guitar.
Stevie Mack, CRIZMAC Art & Cultural Tours in Tucson, AZ for photo of Day of the Dead bread.
Creative Cakes & Desserts by Dena in Prescott, AZ for permission to use photo of cup-cake wedding cake
Nancy Egly for editing advice.
8th grade art students from Arizona College Preparatory School/Oakland Campus, Chandler Unified School District

Estimated Time

Lesson One = 20-40 minutes
Lesson Two = Gallery Visit
Lesson Three = 50 minutes (strawberry practice) and 50-120 minutes for final sculpture
Lesson Four = 50-120 minutes

A Note about Standards

This unit was designed to address CREATING, PRESENTING, RESPONDING, and PRESENTING standards for eighth grade (Lesson 3) and second grade (Lesson 2). You may wish to adapt objectives and activities to other grade levels or emphasize, de-emphasize, delete or add, objectives and activities as appropriate for your own curriculum.

AZ Visual Arts Standards:

VA.CR.3.8: Apply relevant criteria to examine, reflect on and plan revisions for a work of art or design in progress. (Lesson 3)
VA.PR.4.8: Develop and apply criteria for evaluating a collection of artwork for presentation. (Lesson 3)
VA.RE.7.8b: Compare and contrast contexts in which viewers encounter images that influence ideas, emotions, and actions. (Lesson 1)
VA.CN.10.8: Make art collaboratively to reflect on and reinforce positive aspects of group identity. (Lesson 3)
VA.CR.2.2b: Demonstrate safe and proper procedures for using and cleaning art tools, equipment and studio space. (Lesson 4)
VA.PR.5.2: Distinguish between different materials or artistic techniques for preparing artwork for presentation. (Lesson 4)
VA.RE.7.2a: Use art-specific vocabulary to describe one’s natural world and constructed environments. (Lesson 2)
VA. CN.10.2: Create works of art about events in home, school, or community life. (Lesson 1)

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