Archive for June, 2010

The Paradox of Life: Same but Different

June 27, 2010

We’re all different but also the same. The fourth grade class got that lesson in their art class. Each student was given a piece of white paper with a 22-sided design outline. Their finished artwork, when cut out, fit together like a puzzle. It became a large mural which demonstrated, at the same time, the individuality and the togetherness of the class.

Kassandra chose to include in her artwork a vase of sunflowers, a 3-D box, and shapes, influenced by Van Gogh, Vasarely, Matisse and Dubuffet.

Danielle did her artwork looking at a reproduction of the story quilt and book “Tar Beach” by Faith Ringgold. The main character, Cassie, her brother Bebe, the Hudson River, the George Washington Bridge, the family seated at the table on her roof top and her building in New York City were all drawn in wonderful detail!

Erasham chose a 22-sided design with outlines of Vasarely’s boxes on the ends. He colored the 3-D boxes to frame his work. He chose to do a variation of a boy on roller skates on a skateboard from a reproduction by syndicated cartoonist, John Overmyer. He added his own sun and clouds.

By exposing inner city children to a wider view beyond their narrow streets through reproductions of art, we give them access to the world and confidence that they can put their own spin on it through marks on a piece of paper.

The final example is a mural with a whole class’ individual 22-sided box designs colored in, each in his or her own way. The individual pieces were joined together so it looked like a robot. It’s over four feet high. Fun!


The students were proud of their individual artwork and also amazed at how colorful and integrated the whole mural looked when the pieces were joined.  A lesson in how our individual ideas when put together with others’ can make a beautiful whole!

There is no right or wrong in art.

June 19, 2010

In Art Aware classes, by showing large reproductions of art from ancient to modern, I can immediately get the point across that there is no right or wrong in art. There are just plenty of different styles which lead to all sorts of opinions and pronouncements of something being good or bad.

Picasso was the greatest instigator of opinions in the twentieth century. He challenged the norm. By his abstractions, which many adults of a “fundamentalist persuasion” have no use for, he thrust people into the 21st century.

In art-appreciation and art-doing classes, it’s important to instill in the students a trust in themselves. The elementary school students must believe that they can put their mark on the page without being criticized for it by their teacher or anyone else.

A first grader liked Picasso’s “Hands and Flowers” and look what he came up with when he drew his own version! Some of the flower stems are drawn “behind” the hands and some are not. Fine! Such confidence he exhibited with the strong crayon strokes and colors.

A sixth grader did a take-off on Picasso’s “Enamel Saucepan.” A nice (in my opinion!) variation of a cubist pitcher, candle and pan.

Finally, eighth grader, Jen Vi, did a charcoal sketch of Picasso’s “Smoker,” which I personally like better than the Picasso painting.

All of this artwork is done within a 45 minute class. Reproductions are placed around the room and the students can take ideas from them or not, as they choose, for their own artwork.

By the end of the class I am always surprised and pleased with what they come up with!

Hearts and Hands and Peace

June 13, 2010

“Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, I gotta love one (fill in the blank) ’til I die.” Magnificent opera, art, and people set the mood yesterday at the Hearts and Hands Festival in Waterfront South, Camden, NJ.

(this sign, if you can’t read it,  says “Dear Oil Company, Please stop killing our fish! Love, 5th Grade)

This is the best place on earth to live or so it seemed to me with the all the creative energy being produced by people of many ages, colors and backgrounds. This is the way the world should be.

I’ll try to post as many pictures as this blog will hold. The images speak for themselves.


BP and the devil be damned!

Nemunoki School for the Handicapped

June 4, 2010

In Shizuoka Prefecture, there is a school for the handicapped founded in 1968 by renowned Japanese entertainer and philanthropist, Mariko Miyagi.  Art education is of prime importance and next to the school the students’ work is shown in an museum designed just for their art.   Acclaimed exhibitions of  their creations travel around the world.

An artist friend saw the exhibition in Tokyo and sent me the catalog.  He cried when he saw the original artwork, it was so beautiful. I got teary when I saw the catalog.  I’d like to share some pictures with you done by Shimizu Hitoshi.

The first is called “Holland Houses”,  next is  “House with Tree and Leaves” and finally  “A New Day.”

I know nothing about the artist. The catalog is in Japanese. But it’s only necessary to look at the feeling within the pictures. Such strong colors and lines. The personality of the artist shines through as does the peace, stability and self worth that the school and art program encourages.