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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

"Sunnyvale" with the 4th Graders, based on "New Work" by Tucker Nichols

I proposed a project based on the work by Tucker Nichols to the 4th graders. Nichols is working and living near San Francisco and is having a solo exhibition at Gallery 16 right now.
I made a short power point presentation with the photos I took at the opening and we took some time to talk about the show. I told them that if they have the occasion, they should definitely go there. It is free, it is inviting contemporary art and there is a chance they could get inspired!

I talked to Tucker Nichols at the opening, I was intrigued by the use of a map of Austin. He told me pretty much all the drawings/paintings in the ensemble above are representations of places he remembers from his childhood. Maps, idea of maps, paths...

I wanted to make a project based on the idea of an interpretation of a map. I Googled the map of Sunnyvale and printed as many different squares of the map as there are children in the class.

Each student had a printed square map, a square sheet of colored paper for the background and another sheet of colored paper to work the streets. Scissors and glue. They could get more paper for the streets, but usually one sheet was enough. No pencil, no eraser.

We had two sessions of one hour each. It is short but I take what the teacher proposes and I work around it. The idea is to interpret the map, not to make a map. If the proportions are not respected, it is OK. What I wish they explore is the interesting interaction between the two colors, the fact that they are drawing without a pencil, that the material is simple, yet the result rich and diverse.

Sometimes they ask: is it good? And I say: What do you think? Are you interested by what you are seeing? Or: Do you wish to go further? Or: Take some time to look and then decide what you want to do next.

They were not obliged to do all the streets at all. They could only chose a few if they wanted to. They could make each street with different pieces of paper, as many pieces as they wanted to.

I am using some nice paper (65LB) bought at Michaels on sale (approximately $10). This pack contains 100 sheets in different colors, perfect for this project. It is thick enough, the colors are bright and it does not fade like the usual construction paper. I could use basic material to work on art projects with the children, but I want to emphasize the fact that art should be made with pleasure, and material is part of it. Very often, the children work with cheap material, which does not help them respect what they have done. If the basic material has a purpose - like working on a project with recycled material, that's great, but it has to be a choice.

Friday, May 20, 2011

"Nine" based on "Trente" with the 3rd graders

Wassily Kandinsky, "Trente" [Thirty], 1937

The 3rd graders worked on a project based on "Trente" by Kandinsky [which he created when he was 71]. The material I proposed was black and white paper, a pair of scissors and glue. It was only a 2 hours session. I presented Kandinsky's work and took some time for questions and remarks.

I put some music on: "Contes de L'incroyable Amour" by Tunisian artist Anouar Brahem (listen to the music here) and the children started to work on their project.

Two hours is short but they enjoyed cutting directly in the paper and looking for abstract shapes. They discovered the "negative" piece of the cut and made good use of it.
For some, not "representing anything in particular" was a challenge, for most of them it was the occasion to let it go and just enjoy. And play. But it takes sometime to realize the possibilities so I asked them not to glue anything till the end of the session, for they could change anything at anytime if they wanted to.

As always when I work with children, I very rarely "show them" how to do it. "Trente" was only projected on the wall when we were talking before starting working on the piece. After that the projector was turned off.

As always I enjoy watching them creating their pieces. I am taking pictures of everything they do. We'll have a projection with a critique session soon!

The other project they just finished is based on a work by an artist living and working today near San Francisco: Tucker Nichols, who is having a solo show right now at Gallery 16.