This past week I substituted for a 11-13 year old drawing, painting, and printmaking class. Unfortunately it was their first class of the semester, so not only did I have to set the tone for a class I wasn’t going to teach but everyone was late, due to some confusion. None the less I think the class went amazingly well, because as it often is with teenagers and tweens, they are so self-conscious the first few classes that they often say very little or nothing at all. (Very different from my 5 year old “Art Around the Worlders”) So I had the floor. I explained why I thought this class was important for their critical thinking. “Whether or not you plan on becoming a professional artist one day, everyone should challenge themselves to think visually,” I told them, “we are exercising our brains!”
We began with bookmaking. I stole the passport idea from my AAW class, and we made passport sketchbooks. Then as an icebreaker we went around the room and named a state in the United States and gave one or two facts we had heard about it. To my surprise almost everyone was audible when giving their response. I still repeated each answer louder and in a more flamboyant way just to make sure people were paying attention. After that I did a demonstration on how we were going to create abstract drawings. We took all of the elements of our day so far and created visual maps.
Our final critique consisted of students hanging up their work and writing a note beneath their comrads artwork on small scraps of paper I had hung up. Half of the students signed themselves out and the rest were picked up by their parents.
*One fun thing I learned about these students was that half of my class was either from Trinidad or had parents who were. I think this is because this class took place at Pratt Institute, and a lot of my students came from a Fort Greene school that has a large Trinidadian population.