I have been so very fortunate as to have been invited as a visiting artist as well as a “lecturing lawyer” into classrooms in the US and in Germany. Sometimes I think that I missed my calling (being a teacher) – but I am ever so grateful for the freedom of being able to work with students without having to write report cards.
A recent project involved a sixth grade class that took a tour of the NordArt 2012 (where I occasionally work as an independent art docent) as an inspiration for an amazing project. The idea was not to copy something they had seen that day, visiting the second largest annual exhibition of contemporary art in Northern Europe after the dOKUMENTA ( catching my breath here …) – but to do art. Full-Stop.
So for once (and with the approval of an amazing art teacher who decided not to grade the work) the rule was: there are no rules other than the ones the provided material imposes. And gravity. And so on. Of course, the rule that there are no rules, as a sixth grader pointed out, is a rule. There was a lot of philosophy going on anyhow.
Is there such a thing as an original idea? What if you took the whole class to a planet where nothing they had ever known existed, where there was no up nor down, nor warm nor cold, no soft, no hard, no form they had ever seen before and no function to any form they could think of? Was such a world conceivable? And what happens if you start finding form where there had been none? Would you be able to find an idea without having been exposed to any form before? How can something come out of nothing? What was first, the hen or the egg? We had a ball.
Of course, there was the material. Wire. Paper, Glue. And paint. Lots of paint. No rules here either. How to apply paint? Sure you can use a brush. Or your hands. Do you have to apply it at all? How abut freeing the paint from the idea of application? We did that too. And were having a ball. Again.
The kids came up with incredible colors, beautiful forms and great stories. Some of their work took form, much of it was fleeting. We saw the most amazing colors running down plastic sheets, swirling colors on paint palettes, painted hands and faces. It was beautiful. It was certainly lots of fun. I am convinced it was art.
The creature posted here was just one of the many creatures and forms populating “Our world”, as the students called it. We have yet to collect their stories and assemble them in a book. I will post more. For now: the “Thing”. I love it.
ART and kids, that is an awesome mix. I do so hope they will keep some of their wild and creative impulses and treasure them as they are getting older. There is nothing as joyful as turning your back to all the “ifs” and “buts” and just be. In the process. Your process. Your life.