Hero’s Journey: An Artist Residency with the EMP

EMPI’m excited to be working with the Experience Music Project this year as Artist-in-Residence, in the Curriculum connections program, doing outreach with schools.

The EMP is an adventure in inspiration.  Their curators blend art, music, and technology in innovative, interactive exhibits that invite museum visitors to “play.”  Many of the exhibits delve so deeply into a topic, you could spend a couple/few hours exploring one thing.EMP_1

I especially enjoyed seeing the Hendrix exhibit.

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Icons of Science FictionIcons of Science Fiction is pretty cool too.

Fantasy Worlds of Myth and MagicI am working with the Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic exhibit, and connecting exhibit content to literacy/creative writing through visual art.  (*The program serves students in grades 5 – 12.)  My first session was with a 5th grade class.  Students had been writing fantasy stories, creating characters, and mapping their imaginary worlds, like Tolkien with Middle Earth or Terry Brooks with Shannara.

middle earth mapmixed media art dollWe worked on character development through drawing and sculpture, and over the course of 5 art classes in a week, they created storyboards, character studies, and a 3-d model of their main character and narrator of the story.

I decided my character here needs a bow and arrow like Katniss Everdeen to complete her Hero’s Journey.  Who would your hero be?

A huge bonus in teaching with the EMP is that the staff photographer is scheduled to come photograph the students’ work so that when the class visits the museum, photos of their artworks will be projected onto the Sky Church Screen.  What a cool experience for the kids!

Thank you to the Experience Learning Community Foundation for funding the arts in public schools.

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shadow box imaginary worlds and a playground for a flea

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shadowbox_stageinamagicalforestWhere is your imaginary world?  Is it a chocolate lake with a sugar beach, cotton candy palms and licorice vines?  Perhaps it is in the middle of a volcano, with molten lava rivers and bizarre rock formations that must be scaled, jumped, and climbed.  Through imaginative play, we journeyed to our own imaginary worlds to determine the setting for this artwork.

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Each child deconstructed and transformed a cereal box, decorating it in layers to create a background, middle ground, and foreground.

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We explored paper sculpture techniques such as quilling (or rolling), folding, and creating tabs to make things pop-up.

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Building dimensionally in layers was the challenge for most students, resisting the temptation to just glue everything flat on the background.

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playgroundforafleaMy overflow project: a playground for a flea.  Students build upon their new paper sculpture skills, this time in a fully 3-d format, building from the ground up.

For more shadow box art, see my earlier post, Shadow Box Art Books.

Ceramics series at Alki Elementary

Alkiceramics_6Artist-in-Residence program for Alki Elementary, Fall 2013

Theme: Patterns in Nature

Photo credit: Karen Hinkey

In this all-school ceramics series, students grades K – 5 explored clay through three classroom sessions.  We looked at photos of patterns in nature for inspiration.  The petals of a dahlia, the veins on a leaf, an intricate spider web, the ripples when you drop a pebble in a pond.  This theme is an easy link to science and the study of the natural world.

In the first session, students learned reductive techniques such as stamping and pressing tools into the clay to make patterns.  Grades 3 – 5 also learned additive techniques, using “slip & score” to attach clay to clay and create shallow relief.

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In the second session, while the tiles were drying and being fired in the kiln, we worked on a different clay project, learning hand-building techniques to create 3-d creatures and gargoyles.

Nicole holding a clay gargoyle clay gargoyle

Students learned to create and combine pinch pots to create a hollow vessel for the creature’s body.  Then they practiced using slip and score to make wings and other details.  This lesson is very much about the process over the product, as we used an air dry clay.  Here is a terrific discussion on process vs. product by Ann Wynne at A Room for Art.

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This clay is nice because it’s a soft, malleable clay, which makes it easy for little hands to explore.  And they love, of course, that they get to take it home right away (YAY!) instead of waiting for a couple weeks while it dries and is fired in the kiln.  We talked about how air dry clay is not as strong or long-lasting as kiln-fired clay, and we worked on making our sculptures as sturdy as possible.  (No skinny little wisps that will break …  )  This lesson was about the experience of plunging your hands into a ball of mud, squishing it, squeezing it, trying some techniques, and transforming it into something imaginative and wonderful.

Alkiceramics_8Finally, in the third session, students glazed their bisque-fired tiles and all 400 tiles were schlepped to Seattle Pottery Supply for the final glaze firing.

Many thanks to Alki PTA, Principal Shannon Stanton for her tremendous support, Karen Hinkey for making everything run smoothly, and Pam Naspinky Bigatel for running the kiln, and to all the many parent volunteers who helped in the classes.  Thank you for supporting the arts in public schools!

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Mosaic column at Lakeridge Elementary

 

mosaicThis project started as an after school program for youth-at-risk.  Nadine Smith and I team-taught a 13-week program in drawing, painting, collage, ceramics, and mosaic for students in grades 1 – 5.

mosaic columnUsing the students’ work as a starting point, we created a design featuring orca whales (the school mascot) and an underwater scene of Puget Sound.  The kids made clay seashells, fish, and starfish, and we incorporated these ceramic pieces into the design to add some texture and dimension into the mosaic.

We did the tile-work in our studios, and now we are installing panels of tile-work onto the column.  Once all the panels are up, we still have a lot of work to do, seaming, cleaning it up, and grouting.

It’s going to be beautiful when it’s finished.

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Patterns in Nature at Cougar Ridge

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Artist Residency in collaboration with Shari Kaufman and students at Cougar Ridge Elementary.  Many thanks to Cyndi Moring, Jackie Tanner,  PTA, parent helpers, and wonderful staff.  Thank you for supporting the arts in public schools.

For more about our process, see here and here and here and here

Tile installation at Cougar Ridge

CRinstallation5I keep wanting to rearrange the tiles.  All 640 of them.  And 192 filler tiles.  That’s 832 tiles on 8 boards, 3′ x 5′ each.

CRinstallationBig thanks to the many volunteers who helped us install the tiles on the boards.

Next step will be grouting and then the boards will be framed.

It brings so much color to a gray hallway, which now has become a beautiful gathering place as parents and children walk to and from the playground.  They stop and look at the tiles.  I hope they will continue to look closely and discover not only their own tile, but the beauty of all the children’s patterns in nature.

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For more about our process, see here and here and here