Picasso heads+Gifs

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This month at Bancroft I’m doing the typical Picasso portrait lesson of abstracting a face but with a new twist.  Being a facilitator I drew the shape of each kids head and drew the figure eight and some lines to divide the head into shapes.  The students made color choices and sometimes provided some direction as to where to put the color or pattern.   Jaquese made some marks of his own and crumpled the paper as usual.  I then took a photo of the drawing and used an a free app Gifycam to add a gif to the drawing.  These kids often respond in some way to movement and light close to their faces.  There was a good amount of reactions today because of the gifs.  Reactions can be an awakening, a smile, eye movement, a vocalization or in one case holding the Ipad up to a face.  Every response is so small.   One just has to believe that something is happening.  They help me live in the moment,to really listen, and better accept what I don’t understand.  Adding the gif was fun for me and I think my enthusiasm rubbed off on the staff and students.  I really had fun today.

 

 

A new year of Learning

Happy New Year.  This week I start 2 new residencies.  As always I am excited and scared.  I never get used to meeting new students and always have the jitters.  Age has perfected my on top of it teacher facade.  This year I am doing another big messy public art like project in Warren NJ.  I will be working with special needs teenagers building a high relief mural. MK YA Mural design 9-2017008

I often feel like I am the only teaching artist in NJ that does these projects that require scale shop drawings, budgets,and material lists to be approved by building staff to meet code.  This school got it right in getting these things out of the way in the beginning.  I have had a few projects that did not and I left the residency without an installation because of building approvals.  We started planning in September and are just now ready to dive in.  The drawing lays out a basic template for our design.  Student input will determine what it will actually look like within those parameters.  I have found that it is very important with special needs kids to have a concrete clear simple plan to follow.  I have also found that it helps with all schools to have a preplanned template to improv from.  The key is to listen,be open to what is happening, and feel free enough to change it up if you see something great or it isn’t working.  I try really hard to be a facilitator not a prima dona artist.  My second residency is an after school program in Vineland doing stopmotion…with 3 Ipads.  I have been so inspired by the ipadartroom.com website but her kids all have Ipads.  I am still working on having a few Ipads with kids that are so hungry to play with them.

So like I always say…Let the fun begin!

STEAM projects at Bancroft

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This month we made sguigglebots and it worked very well with these kids.  Vibration motors were a hit with most of the students.  They seemed to enjoy the feel of them and we had good reactions.   The sound was stimulating to them also.  Visually they were less interesting to the students but the staff loved it.  A few more able students picked them up and were fascinated by the spinning propeller on top.

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Patrick was engaged with the contraption without the markers.  Check out that smile!  Next week we move on to moving gizmos with ping pong balls, sticks, and more vibration motors

A Quiet Totem Finale

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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.

 

Scary but I did workshops for Grownups

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Yesterday I did 3 workshops at the Moore symposium “Sculptural Practices for Diverse Learning Needs”.  I work with kids and doing the professional development with teachers required by grants always scares the shit out of me.  I’m not a real teacher and I find them intimidating.  I had to write an academic sounding description for the workshop so it was Creating a Large Vision through Cooperation.  Writing really isn’t my thing as those of you following this blog may have noticed.

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Most of my photos are out of focus but I’m adding some anyway.  Not only do teachers scare me but I rarely agree to do one time workshops.  I think of them as fast food artmaking like a McDonalds happy art meal.  I like to work with a group for at least 12 days so I get to know students.  I found that it wasn’t so bad and wasn’t so scary once I got started.  Somehow there were classes full of grownups smiling, talking, and playing nice with others.  The room was full of laughing, and chatter.   The big creative mess we made pleased me the most.  It is possible I prefer the longer experience because I see progress.  In these one time workshops I just have to have faith that some learning has taken place and get used to it.IMG_20171111_114142350~2

It went well.  When I looked at the photos I took there were lots of smiles in a room that looked like art was happening.  I might be open to doing this kind of thing again!

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One young woman disappeared at the end of class and left this piece.  It says it all.

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Grouting Done!

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I finished the grouting at home today.  Grouting can be so time sensitive.  If you clean it too early you remove grout and too late and it becomes hard to clean.  Today I was lucky and got it just right.  I mixed grey Portland cement today since I’ve been working with it on my own projects.  The proportion I use is one part Portland to 3 parts  yellow sand.  You can use commercial grout unless you have big spaces between tiles.  When the tiles dry and lighten I rub off grout with a dry sanding sponge.  Then I use a wet sponge that has been rung out and not too wet.  The last step is to use a dry towel to polish the tiles a bit and then you are done.  The grout can be stained with diluted acrylics if needed or you can add powder or liquid color to the mix.  I will color the base once it drys.   The doves still need to be filled out with a white Portland cement and white sand mix.  It is harder to find but the very fine bright white sand sometimes used in ashtrays is my favorite.  Next I will put a foundation in the garden and install in the Bancroft garden.  I can’t wait!

Landis Middle School

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I hope to revisit school projects this year to see how they look today.  I worked in an after school program for several years on a small garden.  We started in 2009.  Students designed and I helped build these sculptures.  Landis is no longer a school but looks like a construction site today.  It is a historic building so it is being renovated in some way for a new purpose.  Trailers were removed so one side of the garden is open now.  Flourishing weeds surround the sculpture.   It has faded but still looks good.  Alphonso the squirrel still greets whoever comes by.  To see the garden at the height of it’s glory check it out at sjmoc.com/community/Landis’09

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