This week I put the totem together in the garden. It’s cold now and the garden is covered in leaves and we can’t take kids outside. It does look great though. I put the sections together with landscape adhesive and shimmed it level as I added parts. I have never never used construction adhesive to join this kind of thing so it will be interesting to see how it holds up. In the spring it will get grouted between the parts or taken apart if the adhesive fails and mortared together.
We are getting close to the final step of grouting
We are topping it off with two doves. The wires are for attaching tyvek feathers
My steady job for the last 4 years has been making art with medically fragile technology dependent children and staff at Bancroft Voorhees NJ. These children are in wheelchairs and hooked to machines that beep and flash lights. All are non verbal and few can use their hands. When you take the time to be in the moment with them they do show joy. ….a good deal of joy! The totem project is a way to celebrate the joys of children that passed recently. This project is administered by yanjep.org.
We started by making handmade tiles of images that reminded the staff of the things that gave these children joy. It was such a gift for me to hear all the stories. Some teachers and staff have known these kids since preschool. The kids of course can’t make these themselves. I am the “art facilitator”for the kids and also the staff. These children respond to touch and sound mostly. When they can make choices in a way I can understand I go with it. I have a familiarity with the way they communicate and do the best I can to hear them. Many smile hearing my voice and so many react to touching materials. Touch is such a big part of their experiencing the world and a sense we often neglect. I’ve found that a good deal of patience and just being there and present goes a long way with these particular kids.
tomorow they come out of the kiln
This is how Chris and I look together. Chris is a special second grader I had the privilege to meet last school year. He got all the important bits right..the earrings,the mop of curls on the top of my head and the big grin. I adore this drawing.
I saw Jyair writing with his little stub of a pencil and said it would make a great earring. He said no way and I said if you trade it for a big pencil I will come in tomorrow with pencil earrings. Silly boy didn’t believe me!
Tahid was a 2nd grader at Grace Norton Rodgers School. As he said it was a dream come true for all of us. We had a great time making our mural for the front of the school
I’m an artist/ teacher and hoping to make things easier for others by sharing my projects. I hope that others will share with me as well and make my life easier. Perhaps I need to learn something new. I really don’t know. Late in life I discovered I love to work with special needs kids being a non verbal type. I have no idea about what I’m doing or where I’m going with this blog thing but I can’t wait for it to be fun. The learning curve is steep for me and I’m mildly frustrated. I always encourage kids to take risks and so I am taking my own advice and diving into the abyss. My personal work can be seen at marilynkeating.net or sjmoc.com