Art is over.
5 weeks–gone. This past month sucker-punched me and everything went by so fast. One minute we’re reading about the quiet talent of folk artist Horace Pippin, and the next minute I’m trying to convince the kids (and myself) that spray-painting on buildings is, in fact, bad. (We ended up working on black foamboard. It’s kind of like a wall, right?)
We covered Pippin, O’Keeffe, Chihuly, Van Gogh, and Banksy–yes, Banksy. My hope was to not only touch on the mystery artist himself but to explore the overall concept of street art–so often graffiti is used to express political or societal views. Sticking it to the man is always fun and sometimes called for, but I wanted the kids to see that they could use art to spread messages of hope and kindness all sorts of other good stuff and junk.
We barely scraped the surface, because of this:
We took up too much time in art class doing art.
For this starter street art project:
- I got some foamboard. Get this crap on sale or use a coupon because it is not cheap.
- Then I took chalk and traced the kids laying in crazy positions. It doesn’t have to be a perfect trace because you’re just looking to have a general shape.
- We got acrylic paint (the thick gooey kind, even though acrylic craft paint might work just as well) in all kinds of bright colors, and started filling up the shape inside the lines. Some kids went all b-a-n-a-n-a-s and some kids were all kinds of methodical and geometric. The idea was to make it look kind of like graffiti, but I am not in the business of shutting down creative genius in progress. If a little girl wants to draw herself with eyes and hair and a pretty pink dress, then by cracky that’s what I’m gonna let her do.
- I let them use a number of objects to get the paint on–brushes, brayers, rollers, brooms, and this weird-looking thatched tape that I found in my garage that probably belonged to my husband and I wasn’t supposed to touch. Think texture and patterns and just overall awesome mess-making.
- Then, if they wanted to, they wrote words in graffiti-style handwriting that described themselves (funny, cool, silly, awesome, etc.)
They came up with some pretty cool finished products.
Banksy wasn’t totally kid friendly. His art definitely carries a message and I only ended up showing them about 2 examples of his actual work.
I get it–freedom of expression–it’s a beautiful thing. But can we not use it to encourage and uplift? Just something that’s been on my mind. I wanted my students to see the potential in that, but we didn’t go as deep as I would have liked. So because there was so much left unsaid, my next session–Spring of 2014 (as long as I’m not in between homes)–will focus on street art: sculptures, murals, street performances, etc.
Should be awesome.