Nierikas- Yarn “Paintings” inspired by Starry Night

Grade: 7

Artist: Huichol tribe in Mexico, Vincent Van Gogh

Materials: yarn, scissors, liquid glue, paper, colored pencils, crayons, pencils, erasers, Starry Night handouts

Teacher Prep: print out copies of Starry Night and laminate for students to reference at their tables, collect yarn

Day 1: Introduce the students to the works of Vincent Van Gogh using Prezi. Have students disect the painting Starry Night. Introduce Nierikas, their purpose, and cultural background of Huichol people. Show several examples of Nierikas. Explain to students that they will be “simplifying” Van Gogh’s painting to basic shapes and forms to create a Nierika. Students begin examining Starry Night in pairs and sketching a rough draft of their own interpretation.

Day 2: Students continue sketching their interpretation of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Remind students to simplify shapes, and not use tiny details, as they will not be able to show using the yarns. Once students have completed the sketch, I had my students color in a “map” of which colored yarns they would use in each place. With my first group I did not have them color in the drawings and found they were confused as they neared the end of the project with the yarn as to which colored yarns to place where. 

Day 3-9: Students continue gluing yarn to complete Nierika. ​

Final Day: Students fill out self assessment rubric. Gallery walk/critique of peer works. 

Tips: I did this as a lesson following soda straw weaving to get rid of yarn scraps (see my post about soda straw weaving here). Some of the yarn came from leftover project materials, but most of it came from friends and family members that knit and crochet and graciously save their odds and ends scraps for my classroom (shoutout to you). For one group of students, they finished this project in a little over a week, the other group I did this project with took over two weeks. You really have to figure out the duration for your students as you work on this one. Remind students that less glue is more! The yarn will not stick to the paper if the students use a lot of glue at once. I had students work one strand of yarn at a time. The students who covered an entire section with glue at once and tried to work one yarn at a time had a lot of difficulty as the yarn would move around in the glue puddles. This project takes a lot of patience, and I had to motivate my students a lot towards the final days of the project. 

Laminated Examples for partner use at tables.
Simplified sketch example of Starry Night
“Map” where students color in large sections where yarn will be placed upon
In Process: Students adding yarn one strand at a time
In Progress: Students working on adding yarn.
Student work in progress
Completed student work

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