Monday, November 29, 2010

Mornin' Musin': Dioramas Are Awesome

There is a set of Skills-Which-We-Enthusiastically-Cultivate-As-Children-and-Almost-Entirely-Abandon-As-Adults. Example: Making dioramas. Dioramas are awesome. I'm helping Louise make one for science class—the ecosystem of the African savanna—and it's bookoo fun: shoe box, contruction paper, popsicle sticks, that putty stuff, printouts of wildlife. Good times. Dioramas make good pedagogical sense: the kids have to focus in on the details, but they're focusing on the details in a crafty playful way and, consequently, almost don't realize they're learning stuff (and for whatever reason, our brains seem to learn stuff best when they forget they're doing it). Louise has made plenty of dioramas before and will probably make plenty more in the future (as will June). But then we grow up, and we stop.* Admittedly, they have minimal practical application. (I suppose there was a time, before the prevalence of photos/movies/TV/interwebs, when dioramas were an important tool for depicting-scenes-for-people-who-couldn't-actually-be-there, but not so much anymore.) But practical applications are overrated. We could all use a little more impracticality. ("[A] little less practicality"? No, not quite the same thing.) Let's lobby for a national Grown-Ups Make Dioramas Day. It'll be awesome.

* Well, most of us stop. There are exceptions. Just this weekend, as I was chattering on about this subject, I learned that a friend is, in fact, making a diorama (for 'tit Rex; Mardi Gras always elicits good healthy adult impracticality). And somebody else told me about a college professor who, frustrated with lame student essays, had her class make dioramas.


  1. I work in a museum that houses a diorama on the entire floor of one of its lower level. It's quite impressive, and always expanding. I was amazed at the enthusiasts who a) continually work on it and b) who come to visit it. So diorama making is still happening, but perhaps on a quieter scale. :)

  2. I'm in. Name the date and I'll deliver the shoebox.

  3. Deborah7:24 PM

    When I lived in NOLA away from my family my sister made me an awesome diorama of my family at Christmas with photos of everyone. It was awesome. (She was an education major).

  4. Amanda9:26 PM

    There was a peeps diorama contest at my work last year (inspired by this: I made one with my family of the cemetery scene in Great Expectations (it was a Pip/peep pun).

  5. Teresa7:42 PM

    Dioramas were a pleasant surprise when my son entered 1st grade. I'd all but forgotten about them. There's a little something of an altar quality to them that I like; lots of little symbolic pieces of junk piled on top of eachother. Good stuff.

    Loving your new hitech sketches lately, too!

  6. Anonymous12:05 PM

    Hi - it may be a little late to comment, but wanted to let you know we all adults, and we make dioramas!

    Eve Walton and Katherine Evelyn Boarman
    History In2 Art