Little Paper Planes

You never know where a book will take you. In this case, the book Little Paper Planes has taken me on a host of high-flying adventures. The book itself is a treasure of creativity. In it, twenty artists present their interpretations of paper planes, from fairly conventional gliders to a shark plane, a balloon plane, a pet-powered plane and a paper ball that flies. Each plane is ready to cut and assemble or simply admire as a work of art in its own right.

Better yet, each plane is accompanied by artists’ commentaries that shed light on both the planes themselves and the artists’ views and processes. How else would we know that Julia Rothman drew sharpie images in Keith Haring style on her junior-high bedroom walls, or that Ashkahn Shahparnia finds his inspiration wandering for hours around Los Angeles? The commentaries provide interesting snippets of the lives and thoughts of creative people and fine opportunities for conversations about the creative process.

But the adventure has just begun, because Little Paper Planes (the book) originated in the community of artists of the same name. The community has a blog (probably most interesting to older art students) and a store, with links to exhibitions (virtual and in-person), and LPP TV, a site that uses artists’ videos both as art and as a way to communicate with the audience. Both the book and the website offer many opportunities to consider the variety of ways to be creative, and the varied paths that can take individuals there. There are lots of resources about more typical paper airplanes (how to make a paper airplane , for example), and more on those another day. But this is a unique resource, valuable for anyone who cares about art or creativity.

Think about all the ways you could use it.

  • Use the artists’ comments to (with students) create a bulletin board on the artists’ early experiences or the ways they get ideas. Add to the bulletin board as you study other kinds of creative people. Consider how creative artists and creative scientists are similar and different.
  • Talk about how the little paper planes are similar, yet so different. What makes them “planes”? Create new little paper planes, attempting to make each one unique. Display them with student-artists’ commentary about the processes involved in finding the ideas.
  • For the aerodynamically inclined, predict which of the planes will fly farthest or highest. Try them out. Consider what conditions would be necessary to make fair comparisons.
  • Choose a plane and create a story to go with it. Where could the plane go? Who would fly it? What would happen when they arrived? Surely the characters would be as original as the planes!

What else could you do with a Little Paper Plane?

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