Monday, May 30, 2011

Snorkels and the Fine Art of Inventory

Ready for anything!
I can’t recollect one art education class ever mentioning that at the end of every school year, you had to count all your supplies down to the last crayon, pencil and paintbrush.   They probably didn’t want to scare us out of art education entirely.   It was bad enough that our department resided in the basement of a building prone to flash flooding.  In heavy rains, we were instructed to run up the stairs, or carry snorkel gear.  Learning to avoid disaster instilled in me a keen sense of survival which has served me well during inventory season.   The following are some interesting, albeit, random observations about life and art as a result of the annual inventory ritual.   
1.        On Color:  If all the colors dressed as contestants in a beauty pageant, blue would win “Miss Popularity.” Anything in blue – paper, markers, paints, etc.  gets depleted first.   Always order extra blue.
2.       On Unusual Skills:  It takes years of practice, and bravado to refill glue bottles from a gallon jug of Elmer’s without spilling.  – I’m actually still working on this one;  I’ve got the bravado, but still working on accuracy.
3.       On things we take for granted:  Art as we know it will end if newspaper companies convert to publishing on line.
4.        On supplies:  An art room can’t have too many Styrofoam egg cartons.  They make convenient disposable palettes.
5.       On great unsolved mysteries:  The amount of paint shirts hanging on our storage room hooks nearly doubles every year.  I ruthlessly weed out intruders in May or they’d take over an entire wall.
6.       On dinner during inventory season:  If you have speed dial on your phone, the number one position should read “Pizza Hut” because that’s what your family will eat until inventory is completed.

Due to some unusual state funding deadlines, my inventory and order had to be completed early.  For the first time in 14 years, I’m really enjoying a more leisurely pace as the last week of school unwinds and eating home-cooked food.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tape Casting and "Ghost Senior"

"Ghost Senior"



The school days remaining to our seniors can be counted on one hand.  So, last Tuesday I set before my senior advanced art students their final high school problem: As a team, tape casting a human figure and installing him on school grounds in such a way as to reinforce context and meaning.  The project, inspired by modern  installation artist, Mark Jenkins, involved:
  1. Deciding the pose and installation location best suited for a sculpture that would elicit a response from the school community
  2. Wrapping a willing student in packing tape over the course of a couple of class periods.  
  4. Reassembling the pieces/parts so that the figure had structural integrity.
  5. All wrapped up
  6. Securely installing the finished work in the desired location.
With one figure down, and one and a half to go, the pressure remains to finish the other sculptures over the next few days.   We installed the first completed figure Ghost Senior last Thursday using a very tall ladder.    Unfortunately, I couldn’t maintain my balance and exert the force necessary to jam the torso into the duct.  I think the air was a bit thin up there.  At any rate, one of my students took over after I extracted his promise that he wouldn’t fall; and if he did, his parents wouldn’t sue me.  Gravity kept defying us until one of the kids had the brilliant idea of skewering him through the torso with a pole for support.  Poor Ghost Senior, he now looks like he’s not only haunting the hallways, but getting ready for a barbecue.  But for now he’s secure and won’t be going anywhere, let alone a barbecue, until someone else kindly retrieves him at the end of the school year.  

Installation Crew for "Ghost Senior

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Final Chapter: Mural 2010 - 2011


Ribbon cutting


Red Velvet and Chocolate Cake to celebrate - delicious!

Kindergartner stops in the hallway as I'm passing and asks, "Why do you paint on the walls?"
Me:  "Well, ...because it's fun."
Kindergartner,  with a worried tone responds,  "Are you allowed to?"
Me:  "Yes, I got permission."
Kindergartner, adding doubtfully, "OK."

If I'm totally honest in answering the first question,  "fun" plays only a small role in why I muralize wall real estate.  Besides growing my students' artistic skills, the  main reason I keep painting our walls is because art has the power to make us think and question.  It has the power to affect the way we perceive  public and private spaces.

Since I'm a quiet person, visual art is the voice I use to encourage and lift the spirits of my school community.  It's gratifying that the rather dull hike down the hallway formerly dubbed "the tunnel,"  is now an inviting walk towards the newly christened "crossroads".

 Heartfelt thanks go to my art club kids who helped transform our space with their time and talents, and to a supportive administration who really does allow us to color on the walls.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mural Chapter 14: Text and Image

Lettering with a liner brush makes a difference
Text and image, we unfold the meaning of the written word with marriage to a strong visual.  This year’s mural, paired with Jeremiah 6:16 yields a rich and refreshing look at Auguste Macke’s painting “Vegetable Fields”.  The verse reads: 

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it...”
This past Friday and Saturday, I painted a portion of the verse across the top and took care of a few minor mural details.  Frankly, lettering isn’t something I do well - I used to watch my Grandpa letter signs for a living,  fascinated by the rhythmic flow of his brush across the surface.  My lettering skills fall short in comparison to my Grandfather’s; I’m just happy it’s legible. We unveil the mural tomorrow!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Minterm Mosaic

Miniterm students take a turn making the  mosaic table
Grouted and ready to go!

Miniterm has come and gone – the last bits of glass long since tucked away until next time.  The final memento of good times, in the form of our group mosaic table, goes up for sale along with a host of other offerings this coming Saturday, May 7 in our annual school auction.  Thanks to the groups' combined efforts, and particularly to one very determined student who spent a morning fine tuning  shapes, the table looks great.  We hope it finds a good home.