Suri is going into 6th grade in September. She had this green toy that you can pull and stretch. I said I wanted to get one for my friend Jaquese who loves to tear and pull things apart. He is a Bancroft student who I adore. He is in a wheelchair and has a strong arm and a weak one. He will go nuts for this toy I said and showed Suri his picture. She asked to borrow the sharpie I had and quietly washed the toy and redrew the eyes and mouth. She gave the toy to me at the end of our time together to give to Jaquese. It still brings me close to tears thinking of this generous modest spirit in one so young. She has a special needs sister that can be difficult. She handles it with such love,empathy, and understanding. She makes me so happy in this world that makes me sad,angry, and depressed. This kid makes me feel hopeful that the world has more kindness than I could possibly imagine.
Can’t wait to bring it to Jaquese
Love you Suri
I am finished for this school year and it has been so interesting and only occasionally frustrating. This is a great school with engaged staff and administration. My glitches were the business office ordering materials and getting the building folks to play nice with art and women. It all worked out and we had our grant extended into next year. This is so important for this type of learners to have at least 2 years. This is a developmental learning school and what I might take for granted takes more time. On the last day students finally looked at me directly and related verbally. Jayde learned my name instead of saying “excuse me” all the time. On the last day we got students to draw things for the next part of the mural. I think autistic kids and most of us need to see something concrete not abstract to understand. I have been blessed with being able to see the big picture and help others do the steps to create something. I’m kind of an art general contractor. Most aren’t like me that way I’m finally realizing. Hopefully this realization will make me a better teacher.
What we have so far. This is 16 ft by 8 ft high and the lighting makes it so hard to photograph. It is a curved wall so that is why I went with an appliqué approach. The high relief bits are attached with construction adhesive and temporary screws. It was decided that I could install. This gave me the opportunity to have students set tiles directly on the wall and one of the most rewarding parts of the process. We now have 16 additional feet to work with. I’m delighted students now get it and are excited about designing more. I can’t wait to see how things develop next year.
Our high relief dog. A student made a drawing of a teacher’s dog that we used. We have an F-16(I think that’s the right plane) that another student drew.
A kids Sponge Bob
Some handmade clay bits with our background of blue glass tiles. I had them set handmade tile and glass tile on small pieces of mesh. This was a great way to have kids apply tile to the wall. I always want to know what clay and glazes were used so for us it was some kind of low fire white that I found in the art room and rehydrated. We used Amaco velvet underglazes my go to glaze for inside and outside and a low fire gloss glaze. I had most of the kids use cookie cutters to make tiles but some made more unique tiles. John made his name and large! We spread the letters out throughout the mural.
We made a music contraption as my last project at Bancroft. I made a bamboo structure to hang objects that make noise on this last day. There was no thought of permanence. Just in the moment fun using whatever materials I had to work with. I used bamboo which I grow and know many spots in the area to get some. Then I tied it together with rebar wire or cable ties. There were tomato cages in the garden I put together in a more sculptural way to hang bamboo chimes from. On the way to school someone had thrown 2 bikes in the trash so I took the front wheels. I had a box of kitchen utensils from way back in the day when I was making armor from kitchen doodads.
We started inside playing with different sounds to find what we liked best.
Kalop loving the sounds and the sunshine. We had a wonderful day for this project.
So my final day was joyous, sad, and very noisy.
Ja’quese has been so much fun to play with for the last 6 years. I met him in the hallway with a volunteer before he started school. He grabbed my hand and we both started laughing and have been playing ever since. I look forward to hearing his squeals of delight when he sees or hears me. I’ve been playing with him in his wheel chair before class ends for a few years now. I love to hear him laugh. I wear an apron with art tools since I work on a lunch tray. One pocket has a light up rolling eyeball ,a snake finger puppet, and a zombie grandma popping eye toy. He likes to grab the apron and take the toys out. As an artist he excels at tearing paper to shreds! As a curious playful person he can’t be beat. My lesson for the past few weeks has been to make adaptive versions of some classic toys. I started with an old fashion fishing toy using magnets. This version has big fish that kids can hold and larger magnets so that the fish can be placed on the floor and fished from wheelchairs.
The fish are paper mache over a cardboard form. The fish have a large washer glued to the top and then painted with acrylics. I had a big magnet doodad from when I was a telephone installer and used that to fish with. It is tied to a piece of bamboo. It worked very well and Ja’quese really got the fishing idea.
Ja’quese laughing at me with an Ipad taking his picture
Ja’quese concentrating on catching a fish.
This coming Tuesday is my last day at Bancroft Voorhees. Budget cuts! Always the arts! I made a bamboo structure in the garden to turn into a musical contraption piece. I want to go out with cacophony and as much joy as I can muster without tears.
I just finished a 5 day residency at RT Cream school in Camden with a second and fourth grade class. We made contraptions with a basic electric circuit.
I looked like Santa with my trash bags and a cart of materials going from class to class. We took 4th grade to the cafeteria to work since the classroom was so small. It wasn’t ideal given that being organized is hard for me in ideal situations! I would do it again in a heartbeat.
This is what a circuit with a battery ,switch, and motor looks like to a second grader. I am pleased that almost 100% of the kids mastered this and can wire a circuit themselves.
In fourth grade we started with doodlebots and vibration motors. They were such a great group I added pulleys and we made car like things. They earned the right to use hot glue so we could do more. Five days was way too short with this group. They were so engaged and became independent creative thinkers very fast.
Second grade started with doodlebots and then made vibration motor animals using a piece of foam noodle as a casing for the electric parts and adding decorations. The photos just can’t show how much fun I had with these kids.
I started this blog with a big push from a friend that knew how it worked. I really love teaching and am insanely curious and love making art with others. This summer my contract runs out and I’m not sure about continueing…. Personally as an artist though I feel like I have nothing else to say or “store” being a sculptor. Then I get folks signing on to get the blog! WTF!…thanks for keeping me going to the next one….Facebook with the thumbs up likes or hearts doesn’t do it for me. I really crave some conversation especially with younguns. I might need a bit of help with tech but bring it on please. I think so many of us need to communicate with each other.
Not sure that this is why i started the blog but being real works for me
Today we laid it all out on the floor and it looks amazing so far. I’m finding that mosaic and making small clay parts with cookie cutters and handmade parts when possible is ideal for this community of learners. Paper mache also. I think these kids benefit greatly from hands on tactile repetitive experiences. These are techniques that work with all levels of ability to create a fabulous whole. Today Dasante came running into the art room with a big smile on his face. We all need more art then we get normally. It touches us in places that can’t be measured. It touches these children in ways we should be paying more attention too.Dasante’s butterfly
I’m happy that I got the proportions right!