Friday, April 27, 2007

Celebration of Art

For three years now, around this time, our school district has put on a 2 day Artists and Writer's Festival. I've been lucky enough to teach each year - the first year I did Celtic Knot quilting (the really young children helped with some of the fusible, the older children would actually compose most of a quilt), last year I did paper mache masks, and this year I taught Self Portraiture as a journalling device.

Each year the children are given choices as to which classes they'd like to take (a total of 6 different ones over the 2 days). They get a certain amount of say in the classes that they want, but do also have to take some that are not necessarily their first choices. There is a whole team of artist and writers recruited from the community to be the instructors. The children could do drumming, sculpture in clay, poetry, storywriting, birdhouse building in wood, song composition, singing, acting, making cinquefoils and pendants, charcoal drawing, artist's trading cards, paint floorcloths,....and so much more.

I've included the full class work from my first two classes here, one primary and one intermediate. What I was most impressed with was that the children re-learned how to LOOK. Even by age 5 or 6 we are locked into drawing 'this kind' of hand or 'that kind' of nose. A lot of the class opening is spent really looking at ourselves in the our face really round? Are our eyes round, or oval, or a little of both? I had one (primary) student pipe up - "my eye's shaped like a lemon!" After examining their own faces (and a little primer on face structure from me) the were given paper and asked to draw a realistic or fantasy self portrait. The results surprised us all!
The one display I think must have been the most work was the weaving. She had about 17 different looms there, all warped and ready, and they taught children of all ages to weave. You can see two of the larger floor looms here - she had more (!). Each child got to take his/her weaving home - the instructor re-warped each loom as it ran out, and over and over again went through the steps and explained this process which is so fundamental to our lives.

Last of all, I had to put a picture of Youngest Son in here. He's the blond one on the right. Apparently boys his age like rooster tailed hair - many small people were sporting it at the festival. Bedhead, eh?

You can see him here in the 'moments in cast' class where they plaster casted their hands. He said this was his favorite of all the classes. I think he related well to the instructor (the fella on the left), and the whole messy plaster thing made a tremendous impression on him.

Today all the work that the children wanted to submit is hung in the gymnasium for public display. Local people can come for tea, and to see performances by some of the children in the afternoon. The organizers, as always, did this on their own time. Dedicated teachers, each.

Have a great day,



Vicki W said...

That is so cool! Your son is adorable and I love his hairdo! It must be really inspiring for you to see the kids develop in your class. Very rewarding.

Lisa said...

It's an amazing experience all around. This sort of thing makes me think that I'd like to sell everything and go back to school to be a teacher. It'd be pretty hard to give up the big machine, though!

Debra Spincic said...

Oh, just call those faux Mohawks!

Looks like a really fun experience--I miss being around kids.

Karen S said...

Wow, what an amazing time that must have been for the students. Makes me want to be back in school if that's what I could expect!