Visual Arts: Underwater Sculpture

Lesson Plan: Underwater Sculpture
Grade level: 9-12
Duration: 5+ classes
Media Type: clay
Subject Integration: Science
National Standards for Visual Arts: (see below)
Objectives: To learn about underwater sculpture artist, Jason deCaires Taylor and Duluth artist Sean MacManus, stone carver.

(website for help with writing rubrics)

4 - Standards are exceeded
3 - Standards are met
2 - Standards may be met at a very low quality or with some exceptions
1 - Standards are not met

Vocabulary (elements/principles):

  • color
  • shape
  • line
  • texture
  • balance
  • unity
  • proportion
  • form
  • value
  • space
  • contrast
  • emphasis
  • movement
  • pattern
  • rhythm

Materials and Procedure:

Day 1:
Present information about artist Jason deCaires Taylor. Show works via website. Discuss the word sculpture and what it means. Start a discussion: “What do you see?” “How does Jason’s work make you feel?” “What do you think about Jason’s work being underwater?” “Have you ever seen artwork created underwater?” “Have you ever heard of other artists who prefer to present their work in nature? If so, who?” (artist Dale Chihuly, artist Andy Goldsworthy, etc.) “What do you think are the challenges of creating artwork that is to be presented underwater?” “Do you think this artist had to obtain some type of permit to pursue this work?” “Think about the materials used: Did the artist consider the environment when he chose these materials?” Show PlayList video regarding Sean MacManus’ work. Discuss the similarities and differences. “How do you feel about Sean’s work?” “What do you see when you look at Sean’s work?” “How does it make you feel?” “Have you seen it before?”

Pass out paper and pencils and have students sketch their own ideas for creating some type of underwater installation. Express considerations of using materials that would be safe for the environment.

Day 2-5:
Students create their own clay sculpture that would hypothetically be installed in some type of underwater installation, much like Jason and/or Sean’s work. Consider size and use of protective glaze.


Jason deCaires Taylor website:

Books by Jason deCaires Taylor:

National Standards for Visual Arts:

High School 9-12

VA:Cr1.1.Ia - I can use multiple approaches to begin creative endeavors.
VA:Cr1.2.Ia - I can shape an artistic investigation of an aspect of present- day life using a contemporary practice of art or design.
VA: Cr2.2.1a - I can explain how traditional and nontraditional materials may impact human health and the environment and demonstrate safe handling of materials, tools, and equipment.
VA: Cr2.3.1a - I can collaboratively develop a proposal for an installation, artwork, or space design that transforms the perception and experience of a particular place.
VA: - I can analyze and evaluate the reasons and ways an exhibition is presented.
VA: - I can analyze and describe the impact that an exhibition or collection has on personal awareness of social, cultural, or political beliefs and understandings.
VA: - I can hypothesize ways in which art influences perception and understanding of human experiences.
VA: - I can analyze how one’s understanding of the world is affected by experiencing visual imagery.
VA: - I can document the process of developing ideas from early stages to fully elaborated ideas.

National Visual Arts Standards link:

Funding for this program is provided by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Click here for more information or visit the Minnesota Legacy website.

Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment