Would you be able to make a statement about yourself within a 2X3 inch box?
That would be pretty tough, right?
The ambitious students from Glendale Middle School’s Latinos in Action class accepted this challenge to claim something important about themselves within an Altoid box. Using 3D visual elements and their awesome artistic minds, they have transformed these tiny spaces. This year the class has been exploring the concept of Claim It! as part of a National Endowment for the Arts funded program with Salt Lake City and the Unity Center. These young people hope to give a voice to their community, their families, friends and to themselves.
The classroom was a buzz of energy as they discussed what they were thinking about, and rummaged through boxes of fabric, old toys, and paper. After diving in with their hands and intuition, they stepped back to examine what they had made. As part of their piece, each artist has written a statement describing the artwork in their own words. Some of the questions they answered are:
What is your box trying to say?
Why did you choose the colors/materials that you did?
Did you learn something about yourself while making this box?
How does your art piece show what is important to you?
Is there a story to go with your box?
Does it inspire a poem?
Look for more artwork from these dynamic artists at the Sorenson Center this May!
Months ago a friend gifted me with 30 tiny tin Altoid boxes. They have sat dutifully in my art closet awaiting their purpose.
When I brought them into class, the students were instantly excited and spared neither time nor imagination creating a box for their claims.
Using multi-media objects, spray paint, wire cutters, glue guns and miniature figurines each student made their own box. We talked about how artists can work in two ways. One is with a very specific plan which they execute from beginning to end according to that plan. The artist starts out with an intended message and knows precisely how they want to say it. Another way is to jump in and intuitively create an art piece without knowing which direction it will go. Then the artist steps back and asks, “What is this? What does it mean?”
Both are valuable ways of working. The students appreciated permission to work both ways. We discussed how an artist will work in whichever way offers them the most creativity and fluency of expression. No particular way is better than the other.
Students were then asked to articulate in writing, what their art piece signified. Some questions we answered were:
If your box could tell a story, what would it say?
How do the materials, colors, textures or objects express your message?
What did you learn about yourself making your piece?
Why is this piece important to you?
They nicknamed me “The Beast” which I took as a compliment. The line to have your face painted by The Beast lingered peeking around each other’s shoulders.
After our intense work on our theme “Claim It!” and painting the shed out back, it was nice to have a goofy day together. I like these kids and I will take the nickname as a sign they just may like me too.
We could have talked about masks. The art historical context of masks, the metaphorical weight beneath a mask, or the characters in literature and theater who have worn masks. All that was for another day. This day was simply for laughter and apparently, a few tears.
4 roles of blue tape later and we are off to a good start!
On Tuesday the LIA students got a taste of how art claims space. What was once an ordinary shed quickly became theirs.
Working from drawings done in class students collaborated in groups to design their own wall. They did an awesome job of composition and considering the entire space. They used the basic idea of triangles to break up each space in an interesting way. Continue reading
Community art piece painted at Recovery Day September 12 2015 – to be donated to VOA new Teen shelter.
I came today with written and visual proof.
Because what good is a claim without action to back it up?
Why I haven’t made this connection yet, I don’t know. But it feels like a revealing puzzle piece. From the beginning I have been asking myself, “What should we do with this grant?” Of course we take it a step beyond asking students to make claims. The next question is: What are you going to do about it?
For example: I claim to be an artist.
Action: I showed them my sketch book. I also brought a slide show of community art pieces I have facilitated over the last 5 years.
Many of the pieces have been donated to local institutions. Namely Palmer Court which is a more permanent residence for people coming from the Road Home. They can gain assistance with education, job placement and parenting resources. I was reminded of how a simple piece of art can open a dialogue about our world.
The LIA students did such fine work on their drawings, that they were invited to participate in a show at Poor Yorick studios! Twice a year this artist space opens its’ doors and invites the public inside to see what they’ve been making.
Megan Hallet and Sarah Kappos were on site taking photographs and asking people to make claims about something important to them. OurSLC: Claim It! is asking people to think: What is really important to me? Many folks were surprised at how difficult of a question this actually is. They also felt hesitant to write something in bold letters and be photographed holding up their claim.
A class of 28 poised and uniformed students sits at their desks. I didn’t expect them to be this quiet. I didn’t expect them to listen.
Pepper Ann the rock climber – age 6
I bring the PhotoFly book my husband made me for mother’s day. I show them pictures of my kids. I tell them about my 3 year old son Beckam, and how he wakes up at 3 am demanding Ramen noodles and Lucky Charms. I show them rock climbing pics of my 6 year old daughter Pepper. I tell them about how I sprained my ankle 10 steps into a 5K race. Then I show them my misshapen ankle, and we all agree it is gross. I want them to know me because I want to know them. The challenge is this: Can we open up enough in 3 short months to make authentic art together?