The Collage Assignment

• Using the "Dem Bones" handout, compile a listing of at least 80 people who have impacted your life in some way, for better or for worse. You should include everyone who fits the first seven bones, living or dead, whether or not you ever met them or even know their names. (If you don't know a person's name, come up with some way to describe that person so that you'll know who you mean: "my biological father," for example, or "that kid who used to torment me in the fourth grade.") For the "below the waistline" bones, list those people who you do now or did at some time consider to be important. Don't lump people together into groups ("the Johnsons," "my Little League team"). It's entirely possible that a person may fit into multiple categories, but only list the same person one time, no matter how many categories he fits. Although I acknowledge the importance which animals can play in people's lives, remember that we're studying interpersonal communication, not interspecies communication, so don't include your gerbil.

• On one side of a full-sized sheet of poster board (available at Office Depot or any other office-supply store; when you buy your poster board, get two sheets, since you'll need another one later on for the matrix assignment), put one thing (text, picture, or three-dimensional object) to represent each person. Unlike the collages you made in elementary school, there should be no overlapping. Use only one thing per person, and each thing you use may represent only one person. A picture of your parents and siblings, for example, may be used to represent your mother or your father or your sister or your brother or yourself (or the photographer, or someone else entirely!), but not the whole family. If you really want to represent both your mother and your father with the same picture, consider photocopying it and putting two copies of it on the collage, one for mom and one for dad. Make sure that you are ready to identify which person is represented by each piece of text, each picture, each 3D object.

TEXT: You could put the person's name, a nickname, a description, a pet phrase that person always uses, the lyrics to that person's favorite song, a poem she likes, a poem she wrote, a poem you wrote about her -- any text whatsoever which will remind you of that person. You may write the text in ink, paint it, draw the letters with Elmer's glue and sprinkle glitter over them, cut words or letters out of newspapers or magazines and paste them onto the collage, print text out on your computer and glue it to the poster board, etc. Be creative! Use color and style -- but don't use pencil (colored pencils are pencils!) and don't color code. (In other words, don't put all of the mothers in one color and all of the fathers in another. Instead, use color randomly.)

PICTURES: These may be personal photographs, pictures cut out of newspapers or magazines, or drawings done by you or someone else. They may be pictures of the person being represented, pictures taken or drawn by the person, or simply pictures which remind you of the person. If your mother's always wanted to own a red Corvette, for example, you may use a picture of a red Corvette to represent her.

3D OBJECTS: Does your best friend always smoke a particular brand of cigarette? Perhaps you could put a cigarette or an empty package onto the collage to represent that person. Again, be creative -- but also be sure to attach the objects firmly enough so that they won't fall off! (Remember to make sure that nothing overlaps anything else, although it's okay for things to extend outward beyond the edges of the poster board.)

• Keep in mind that the assignment is to make a collage, not a list. Put some things rightside up, some upside down, some at a diagonal. It shouldn't matter which of the four edges of the poster board is on top (if, by the time you're done, the poster board even still has four edges!).

• It's not only okay for other people to help you with this project, I actually encourage you to involve others. Ask them what they think you should use to represent them. Ask them what they think you should use to represent other family members and mutual friends. (Remember, though, that this is your homework, and the final choices are up to you.)

• Before you come to class on the day that the collage is due, you should do an accurate count of how many different people are represented on the poster board, and you should also be sure that at least 20 have been represented by text, at least 20 others by pictures, and at least 20 others by 3D objects. If anything falls off before you actually get the collage into the classroom and you're not prepared to reattach it before class begins, subtract it from your count. Also subtract anything which overlaps or is overlapped by anything else, anything used to represent multiple people, and anything you've forgotten who it represents. You will earn 1 point for every two people represented on the collage, up to a maximum of 40 points for 80 people. The project will be graded in class, not collected, and you'll bring it back home with you the same day. Make sure you save it, since you'll be using it to do the matrix assignment, which comes next!

• Note: the collage is not eligible for the class "redo" policy.

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