I'm not sure why it took me so long to establish the practice of large group, community projects but it has. Last year I have made a vow to provide more opportunities for students to work together on community projects. I think this is positive in a number of ways; it provides a good problem solving experience for kids, it is fantastic PR for the art program, and it's great fun.
I am extremely fortunate to have a very committed, well connected, passionate community that supports the arts in a very big way. Each year they raise funds to bring in a visiting artist that works with students to make a communal artistic experience or project. Sometimes it's a poet, other years it's a visual artist. This past year, I was fortunate enough to have an incredible amount of freedom when planning the Artist in Residence with our PTA (parent teacher association).
I decided to make the most of our budget and go all in. Now, looking back on this - it was a bold decision to create such a large project, much of which rested on my shoulders knowing I would be 9 months pregnant when all this would come together. But, I wouldn't change a thing, The artists that we worked with were incredible and the experiences and outcomes that the students experienced were nothing short of spectacular. Below is the description of one of the three artist in residence experiences that I built for our elementary students.
Before I left on maternity leave I had a really great time printmaking with fourth graders. We were wrapping up our art and culture discovery unit by exploring the process of gyotaku. (Click HERE for a pinterest board full of art and culture from Asia, including some great gyotaku resources). Kids loved learning about the process, and it lead to a great discussion on printmaking.
Our project that resulted from our discussion was a basic relief print using good ol' styrofoam. This group of fourth graders had not experienced printmaking in any form before so I wanted an easy to use, guarenteed success material but a more sophisticated result, so I pushed the engraving and etching examples and held high expectations for lots of fine detail.
We are on week 2 of our artist in residence. Last week 3-5th grade worked with a professional photographer on a project inspired by Minimiam and this week K-2nd grade is working with an animator to create a stop motion animation inspired by Calder's Circus. Below you can see a quick trailer that I put together to showcase our work in progress. It's been a ton of fun and I can't wait to see the end product with all the acts and sounds added.
We are in the midst of our visiting artist week and it's going awesome! It's exhausting and my feet are very swollen (which may be due to being 9 months pregnant) but the kids are pumped and we are having some amazing products come out from the student's learning and working with professional photographers. Below are a few examples of their photos in progress and a very brief description of the project at hand. I'll do a longer post later with more details.