The Human form in 3D

The Human form in 3D

Curricular ties

Big ideas:

-Growth as an artist is dependent on perseverance, resilience, and reflection.
-Artistic expression is an artist’s physical, emotional, and cognitive articulation of our humanity.

Explore and create:

-Create three-dimensional (3D) artistic works using sensory inspiration, imagination, and inquiry • Explore artistic possibilities and take creative risks • Intentionally select and combine materials, processes, and technologies to convey ideas

First Peoples Learning Principals:
–Learning requires exploration of one‘s identity.
–Learning is embedded in memory, history, and story.


I have heard it said, although there is really no the way to be sure, that Sculpture was the first of the visual arts.  Hmmm, I wonder what the First art was? Oh, but I digress…

Sculpture the act of representing something, even if its nothing, through 3D materials.  Either additive, subtractive, or both. Sculptures fall into four basic categories: moulded, cast, carved or assembled. (wikipedia)

The oldest figurative sculptures we have are categorized as Venus Figurines, as they are understood as earth goddesses or fertility figures found in the Upper Paleolithic period circa 10,-50,000BCE.   Not many Male figures have been found from this period. Venus of Hohle Fels dated circa 35,000BCE.  It was Carved from Mammoth tooth Ivery.

Image source Wikipedia


Another of these Venus figurines is the Venus Wilendorf, found in Austria.  It was carved from stone.   It dates somewhere between 25-28,000 BCEd.


Image source Wikipedia

The first Ceramic Human fig seems to be the Venus of Dolní Věstonice, found in what is know the Chezc republic It dates to somewhere between 25-29,000 BCE.


Image source Wikipedia


Here is the Goddess of Catal Huyuk.
A Terracotta sculpture from around 
6,000 BCE.  Made from Terracotta.  Found in Asia Minor – Anatolian Civilizations.

Image source

Hmmm, did you ever see Mad Max?  but I digress again.


OKay, we had to start somewhere and the Venus Figurines seem to be an easy place to begin.  After all, we can relate to them as fertility gods, mothers, women, givers of life.  There is something special about venus figurines.  There not Beautiful in a contemporary aesthetic, but they’re known, there recognizable to us on a primal level.  How amongst us as a small child didn’t look up to their parents and thought that they were huge, that they were giants.

Interestingly, not many, if any, Male sculptures from this time period are found.  For this project I want us to take it as a learning and playful experience to build our understanding of ‘How’ we can use clay to produce a product of our own making which hold meaning and we can define through words, through feelings, through memories.

Let us start,

Take an emotion you know,  that you have REALLY known- Anger, Fear, Anxiety, Joy etc.  In privet find a dynamic body position that echos your memories of those feelings.  Now sketch it- do your best to get the vibe, the proportion is nice but not the most important thing.  If you can write a paragraph, or more, about it. (Breath)


This bronze sculpture  Shadow Spirit, Julia S. Rasor

And Departed, also by Julia S. Rasor, are a good place to begin…

Image source JS. Rasor

And, Transforming Spirit, Julia S. Rasor

Image source JS. Rasor


For me, there is a beautiful quality of ‘human-ness’.  We know they are of the human forms but they speak to us on a different level, an emotional or a phycological plane.

Question: What does this work do to you? How do they make you feel and what do they make you think? (Answer in your sketchbook)


Okay, now let’s take a look at some more artists.

Image source A. Gormley


The works of Antony Gormley also present us with human quality in a way that we have to think beyond what we usually do when we see someone walking down the halls.

Image source A. Gormly

Image source XA Choi

Here are more images by various artists:

Image source Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux

Image source A. Rodin Nudes

Image source Sorel Etrog

Image source S. Etrog

Image source H Lanino

Image source D Youngblood

Image source D Youngblood

Image source D Youngblood . Rose Bean Simpson . Rose Bean Simpson

Image source XA Choi

And I have to say,  this next Artist Yoshitoshi Kanemaki from Japan is doing some AMAZING WORK!!! Take a look.

Image source

Image source

Image source


AND!  here is another treat!   The work of the Spanish sculptor Isabel Miramontes,

Image source

Image source

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For more images of a realistic variety check out This link and This link.

Project Criteria:

  • One clay sculpture rooted in memory, or put another way, (that comes out of your, from a time in your life when you felt an emotion or a sonorous, or deeply resounding, level.   It doesn’t have to be ‘pretty’… it doesn’t have to be in proportion… it has to be real.
  • One page of small sketches
  • one 4×7″ draft
  • Exit paragraph on the meaning of your work


Websites that may interest you on stone age sculpture:

More about Venus Figs (even a few male VF’s!)

Sculpture History (Uni of Cork)

The Bradshaw Foundation. prehistory

All You Need to Know about Stone Sculpture


African Sculpture

Asian Art (from 38,000 BCE)