Dada

As I’ve mentioned we are moving back in time through the modern movements. In addition to keeping a living timeline in our sketchbooks we are also looking for connections in the philosophies of each movement and their techniques. It has been incredibly rewarding to hear them making connections from pop art to surrealism. This week we explored DADA or Dadaism.

We looked at the mama of dada Beatrice Wood and focused on the elements texture and form. Some important things to consider when creating ceramic work.

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Building off of last week we created some not quite automatic poetry inspired by the Dadaist Tristan Tzara:

  • Take a newspaper.
  • Take a pair of scissors.
  • Choose an article as long as you are planning to make your poem.
  • Cut out the article.
  • Then cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them in a bag.
  • Shake it gently.
  • Then take out the scraps one after the other in the order in which they left the bag.
  • Copy conscientiously.
  • The poem will be like you.
  • And here are you a writer, infinitely original and endowed with a sensibility that is charming though beyond the understanding of the vulgar.

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We then looked at Duchamp and created our own ready-made art inspired by Duchamp’s Fountain.

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It was quite a non-sensical week. DADA! Below are the final products that resulted from our week of dadaism. All of my students had the option to create a ready-made sculpture or a ceramic work, and all of them chose to return to ceramics.

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Spring Retreat

Two weekends ago, when we had our first taste of Spring, I had the honor of attending our Junior Retreat. Even though I do not teach many juniors I knew a few through various school activities, and social action days. I can’t say much about the retreat, because it is meant to be a very sacred journey for the girls. However I did get to take an early morning walk before anyone else was up so that I could watch the sunrise on the Potomac. The Loyola Retreat Center in Faulkner Maryland was gorgeous. Here are the photos:

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Education in Other Words, and Other Worlds

It has been a long time since I have been a high school student, and an even longer time since I have read a high schoolers personal essay. I have read plenty of artist statements, and reflections on growth  as an artist, but none of these give me a real and tangible glimpse at the student perspective like a personal essay, or a creative writing piece. (Note to self: Talk to the creative writing teacher ASAP) Now I have to. I suppose I don’t HAVE to, but I am going to because another teacher (^Creative Writing Teacher) at Stone Ridge and I are now advising the “Calithump.” It’s our schools magazine, and it is full of student submissions. We have poems and photographs and essays and paintings.

An interesting fact about this publication was that it was once an award winning one, a few years back. What award I’m not sure but there is definitely a plaque next to the entrance to our auditorium. Unfortunately, in its recent years it was acquired by other teachers, who then left our school for other opportunities and in that transition it was left abandoned and almost forgotten. (*By abandonded I mean by faculty, and for only a few months) It wasn’t until about two weeks ago that my colleague in the English Department suggested we both take it on. So we took a look into what was left of this publication and we found something amazing. In the absence of teachers, two seniors had taken on the role of editors and had been quietly organizing a team of student staff members in collecting and organizing this publication. So really we were just joining them to offer our support. I contacted the printer to get specific details and suggested a few organizational strategies for the content, while our fearless English teacher offered to look over, edit and advise them on all of the thirty-something written entires they had received. It was kind of like we had stumbled upon a hidden factory. I was, once again, impressed with the self-motivated students we cultivate at Stone Ridge.

So the voice of the student, or the student perspective is what I will focus on in the coming weeks. I read this amazing article about a school in South Carolina that is a public boarding school for the arts and humanities. It looks like a wonderful place to be a creative high school student. From this article I discovered three essays from three different students who attend this school. Each essay was “whatever perspective the students wanted to offer about their experience at the school.” They were all different, but equally inspiring, and they reminded me that I should take into account not only what it is I’m teaching my students, but what it is like to be a student in my class, at this school, and in this area. (I highly recommend the essays which can be found here: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/03/what-my-school-means-to-me-essays-from-3-high-schoolers/284317/)

In this same line of thinking, I have taken an interest in what is going on in some of my students other classrooms. I want to share some artwork that is not a product of my classroom, but a response to an English assignment that required artwork. I was told by a student that I should, “go check out the stuff [they] made in English,” and that it was “pretty cool.” So I did. And is was “pretty cool.”

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Figure Drawing: Process

So here are some action shots of my students working on their gesture drawings. These drawings were done using two of the elements of art, line and shape, to build a figure that was proportionate and captured the figure’s pose. Students started (last week) with pencil drawings of small mannequins in their sketchbooks. Next, each student moved on to drawing figures with charcoal on large sheets of paper. These larger drawings were done while we stood and worked on boards set on easels. Each student did many gesture drawings of each member of their class in turn. Each of these drawings took a very short amount of time ranging from thirty seconds to two minutes. The final drawing was an observational drawing of a figure that took ten to fifteen minutes total, and I will follow up with a post showcasing those later.

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