The Stars in My Streets

Am I looking at the ground or at the sky? Why does an artist working in one medium design it to look like another? Star Wars [{street wars}] by Great Rivers Biennial artist Kahlil Robert Irving invites the viewer to ask these questions and provides the inspiration for this art activity. Irving’s sculpture sits flat and low to the ground, its black clay stamped with objects that look akin to everyday life.

For ages: 5 years–adult

Time it takes: about 60 minutes

What we’re going to do:

  • Mold and sculpt a clay tile. 
  • Deboss the clay surface and create texture by using recycled objects.

You’ll need:

  • Black Air Dry Clay
  • White Air Dry Clay
  • Tempera or acrylic black paint (if using only White Clay)
  • Rolling pin
  • Guides
  • Modeling tools
  • Canvas surface
  • Ruler or straight edge
  • Recycled cardboard materials
  • Stamps 
  • Recycled plastics to deboss

Before we start:

Begin by watching the exhibition video or look at the images of Star Wars [{street wars}].

Think about:

  • From what materials do you think this was made?
  • What other materials do you notice the artist has used? What do these materials remind you of?
  • Why would an artist working with clay add to or take away from the clay form?
  • What is abstract art? Can abstract art be representational and non-representational?

Art Activity

To make a clay tile:

1. Mold a slab of clay. Roll out the clay and flatten it with a rolling pin into a tile form. Use a ruler or straight edge tool to cut the sides straight.

2. The tilesshould be no bigger than 5 inches on each side. If you don’t have black clay,  white clay can be used. Simply cover it with black paint, but leave small clay areas unpainted to show the white clay surface. Let the paint dry, and move to step #4.

3. Now take a small portion of white clay and flatten it with your hands and fingers. Then add small amounts of this clay to the top surface of the black clay.

4. Take recycled materials to stamp and imprint in the clay. Use plastic containers to press into the clay, or “deboss.” You can also use small sections of cardboard recycled materials to press into the clay.

5. Let the clay dry.


  • Clay
  • Texture
  • Abstract art
  • Representational
  • Non-representational

The Stars in My Streets is inspired by Kahlil Robert Irving: At Dusk, Great Rivers Biennial 2020.