Thursday, April 30, 2015

flowers in the studio

These gorgeous orchids were leftover from the Curator's Talk and I wanted to share them with the children, so I placed them in the center of a table surrounded by black pens, 6B pencils, oil pencils and water soluble oil pastels, along with bristol board, as a studio provocation.
At this time of the year, the studio runs itself for the most part.  
The children who selected to engage in this flower activity, did so in groups of four, talking and sharing with one another as they drew flowers.  Some of the older students engaged in observational drawing of the orchids themselves, attempting to communicate in drawing the flower in front of them. Far more of the children drew their symbolic construct of a flower, personalizing it with creative color use and line.
Some of our younger students explored floral impressions through color and as they did they often talked about weather, or the magic properties of flowers, or rainbows or nature or more.  As they work they are sharing their ideas about flowers, nature and spring in an ever evolving dialog.  One child remembered seeing orchids on a recent trip to Hawaii, where she also saw a volcano.  A  lively discussion of volcanos transpired, which led to a discussion of earthquakes and the recent devastation in Nepal.  As the children talked it was clear that the act of drawing had become a central gathering point around which they discussed topics of concern and interest.  In this way the children process and assimilate experiences, ideas, impressions and emotions in a shared atmosphere of community.  Art and collaborative activities are far more developmentally important than we fully realize and move children and adults from personalized impressions toward shared understanding and meaning.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

fashion in the studio

"Angelina, I know what I want to make in the studio."
"Okay, can you draw me a plan?"
And so she does...and she explains to me that she wants to make a skirt, showing me her drawing.  I ask if she has some supplies in mind and she walks to the central supply shelves and brings back a beautiful, shimmery pink fabric.  After some discussion she decides to sew it.  We cut the fabric after measuring it on her body.  She carefully hand sews one side of the fabric closed.  Then tries it on.  There is a problem.  It falls right off of her body.  We talk about what holds pants and skirts up.  She walks around the studio looking at the waists of the various clothing her peers are wearing.  After some deliberation she says that she would like to attach a ribbon to the waist... "Yep, that would work".  At first she tries sewing the ribbon but our needles combined with the two fabrics to make sewing laborious at best.  We asks me to hot glue it on.  When it is complete she tries it on and pronounces it "PERFECT!"  Which of course it is.
While this was happening, there were eight other children in the studio.  Eight other children engaged in their own big thinking, encountering there own challenges and drawing from their own creativity and the creativity of their community to solve them.  If we don't see children as capable we are likely to offer formulaic answers to questions that they could solve in creative, resourceful and innovative ways.  Thus depriving them of all the learning embedded in each new challenge and opportunity.

Friday, April 10, 2015


Our beloved guinea pig, Nibbles, died this week and several children came to the studio with questions about life and death.  I don't attempt to answer these questions but we join together in an investigation of the questions themselves.  It's a beautiful journey of discovery.  Children fearlessly ask questions about things that we as adults tend to turn away from.  They tread confidently into the unknown.  They ask questions, undeterred by the unknowable nature of big ideas.  And as they talk, they draw, or sculpt, or play.  It's an honor to witness and a beautiful tribute to the life of our dear furry friend.