Using Wire as an Art Medium

The Language of Wire


“Wire is elemental, formed of metal dug from the earth. It smells evocatively of the earth and is cold and sharp. It is hard, resistant, strong willed. To forge a relationship with wire, we must be strong willed ourselves, determined and persistent. Working with wire is a study of line and form. It challenges us to attend to shape, angle, and curve, undistracted by color, texture, or fluid movement.” – The Language of Art, Ann Pelo

Wire can be a tricky art medium to work with if children aren’t given the appropriate time to explore its full capacity, provided with tools, knowledge, and time. As Ann Pelo mentions, wire engages children’s bodies as well as their senses, requiring them to press, bend, squeeze, twist, and tear. Through these experiences, they begin to truly understand its texture, density, and malleability, guiding their interactions and discoveries.

In our first exploration, we discussed the different gauges of wire as well as the various tools that are used to manipulate wire. The children were observed investigating the properties of wire, immersing themselves in the physical exploration of the wire’s strength as they made bends, folds, and twists. 

Through this language, the children have strengthened their fine-motor and problem-solving skills as they’ve explored and manipulated this malleable material. The properties of wire also presented the children with the perfect medium to create three-dimensional structures, which they’ve been experimenting with over the past year. 

Every week, the children were invited to explore manipulating the wire through bending, twisting, and transformation. One class integrated this project into their study of Picasso, using his art to inspire their creations. Throughout the process, the children were observed demonstrating persistence, as the wire sometimes did not do what they wanted. Through this frustration, they demonstrated their capacity to solve problems, manipulating the wire by adding new materials to their work and utilizing new tools!

Contributing Educators: Jenny Gallego, Yesica Reyes, Luisa Simmons, and Chelsie Braun Resource: “The Language of Art”, Ann Pelo

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