Monday, May 4, 2015

Sitting with "carpet woman" to experience closeness

Hello my friends,

In the past week Parvin Peyvandi, a visiting artist and art teacher from Vancouver, Canada has been visiting your schools (Ravenswood, Armstrong, Hancock, and Peck Elementary). Parvin is originally from Iran and brings a beautiful and vibrant connection to her own culture to the students and teachers of Chicago.

In her performance "carpet woman" she invites students to sit with her to consider the history of the Persian carpet and how a piece of fabric can bring us into proximity with each to other to experience closeness. This performative experience has allowed students to talk about racial segregation in Chicago; the act of sitting together to form a connection with each other; what a life long art practice can be like, and much more. Parvin is like a radiant flower in the center of the carpet, emanating love and openness. Like Marina Abramovic's performances which involve a sense of being in connection with each other, Parvin opens up the space for conversation and touching through materiality.

The invitation to join Parvin on the carpet is extended.

First grade students from Armstrong Elementary School are eager to sit close and touch the carpet and Parvin's hair. The little ones are open to more than just sitting. Touching is often a part of being together.

6th grade students at Ravenswood Elementary are considering their own cultural heritage. Parvin's visit comes at just the right time. There is much conversation around how people feel connected through sitting on the carpet. Some students are aware that there is segregation in Chicago and comment on the recent police brutality events in Baltimore. Parvin says as an artist she cannot control the actions of others but through this gesture of sitting together she hopes to bring people together to experience closeness.

Mature bodies, less room for sitting but still high school students at Hancock are more than willing to sit close for a conversation. I notice that the students of various ages hold their bodies differently on the carpet. The little ones fidget and wriggle to find a sense of comfort. The 6th graders hold their bodies with a sense of comportment. Their minds are open to many different associations - the carpet in Chicago extends all the way to Baltimore. In the high school, students are comfortable with being together but they are unaccustomed to sitting on the floor. From first grade to high school, these students have travelled great distances with their bodies. This performance is a beautiful connecting point for the bodies in proximity to each other over time. We never lose the sense for needing to be with each other. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Student Reflective Writing

This ain't on any standardized test!

Curie HS Art 1 Students are doing reflective writing during their critique. That's right! Our students think and process and then think about their thinking! That's art education and we have to let the parents and administration know what we are doing in the classroom. (That is thinking deeply and reflecting throughout the creative process). I'm always surprised when others are surprised that art teachers do this. So many don't realize the depths we bring our students to.

Click on the link to go to our blog. There will soon be another post of some of the studies with the student writing attached. I regret I did not video the discussions. It is so hard to document and run the session at the same time! I need to get that equipment so I can set up the video camera and let it run on its own....

teachers after hours

Valerie Xanos
Curie HS