I love Lisa Lou's "Kitchen". I love the whimsy of something so familiar and similar and kitschy. She us use ordinary objects to create ordinary things but does it in an extraordinary way. It's what artists do, it's their own translation, as if they use a different language.
I found Bruce Connor's sculpture "Portrait of Allen Ginsberg" from 1960 in the Teachers' Collection. It's an object I have never seen before, and for some reason I was struck by it. It bears no resemblance to a human being, and is constructed from found objects-- junk like old pantyhose, a wax candle, and other unrecognizable stuff. The sculpture filled me with questions. It looks as though it was some mysterious remnant discovered in an abandoned warehouse, rather than something that belongs in a pristine museum. For some reason it feels like a loving portrayal of the Beat poet, even though it's a totally abstract assemblage. I'm not sure if my students would connect with this work the way I did, but I think it could be liberating for them to see that portraits don't always have to "look" like their subjects... how would they make an abstract self-portrait in 3 dimensions, for example? http://whitney.org/Education/ForTeachers/Collection/BruceConner/9648