Thursday, March 12, 2015

Blog Time with You

Hi all!

I've missed blogging with all of you. I'm overwhelmed with too many projects (disadvantage of being an over-achiever). I also took on an overtime position, WHICH I WILL NEVER DO AGAIN!

Most of my work has been put up on class blogs and a class Facebook page. So I'll share those links with you here. Check them out. Not a lot of teacher reflection. It's the one thing I haven't had time to blog about. Trying to keep up with posting the projects. Gotta remedy that.

Guerrilla Art class period 1
Recently posted about their They will soon be posting about their new project "Stereotypes vs. True Self"

Guerrilla Art Class period 4
They just finished a massive project done with the MCA Teacher Partner Initiative. We worked with artist-in-residence Lee Blalock to create an original film. We are still blogging about it, so you can see the whole process. The film was screened at the MCA theater. Been tweeted about and soon to be up on the MCA Blog and Facebook pages.

Art 1 and MYP/IB classes
I've been experimenting with a new curriculum that focuses on experimentation, exploration, artistic process, and our theme of DISCOMFORT. Some of the IB class posts are more studio art related.
Also on this blog will be the research I've compiled from the art teacher delegate trip to Finland, so stay tuned.

Check out our new Facebook community page: Ms. Xanos' Art Classes. It's one simple place to go to where various pictures and news will be posted. All the blogs will be linked on that page too.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Surprise - 4th grade integration

I’m currently co-teaching a 4th grade art integration class with their classroom teacher. The class read the book “Running Out of Time, which deals with the main character learning that her world is not at all what it seems, and being betrayed by someone she trusts deeply. The main themes for the unit are Surprise and Deceit, and we started the unit by trying some new centers (I teach TAB/choice, so the students are used to having various centers available):
  • India Ink straw blowing, and then finding pictures in the patterns
  • Optical illusions - b/w checker drawings, and drawings with parallel lines that curve over a shape
  • “Creature Collages” - photomontage with the goal of making an animal or figure

Students also answered a short questionnaire to help generate ideas for their final work:
1. A time in your life when something happened unexpectedly:
2. A situation that turned out differently than you expected:
3. A friend or family member surprised you, or did something surprising:  
4. Have you ever been afraid to find something out? What was it?

After they filled out the questionnaire, they talked in pairs about the answer they found the most interesting or liked the most. They also spent class time making sketches about the situation, and we emphasized not having to make realistic images of the story they were portraying.

We spent half of another class talking about various artworks that were either abstract or non-representational, or had lots of layering and details. The idea was to look at artwork that held a surprise, or that you had to look at closely to notice small details.

Students have been working on their artwork for one class period. The had a choice of any 2D medium available in the room, though they need to combine two of the available options before they finish.. Choices are: India ink, chalk pastel, all drawing materials, and collage materials/magazines.  We will spend part of a future class having students pair up and do a simple feedback and sharing exercise. I’m very excited about what they’re doing, and especially that students are creating more abstract work from some very concrete ideas (their life experiences). Their classroom teacher is planning on having the students write extended artist statements/reflections on their finished work as well.

Photos of work in progress. Some students decided to start with india ink straw blowing as the beginning of their work.
Looks of surprise:

This student has a story about his family being fooled by someone, and his drawing is depicting how he wished the place it happened at had been destroyed:

Memories of a dark night (the right is the light of a streetlamp she remembers):

Story of a dog (on the right) eating something it wasn't supposed to. 
She found the image of the dog after doing India ink straw blowing:

Friday, March 6, 2015

Navigating loss and longing

We have to work very hard to bring forward our ideas and feelings in writing sometimes. I've asked a number of you to write on the blog and you seem interested and then the rest of life takes over. I absolutely feel the same way. One way I come into my writing is through very specific affective experiences. What does it feel like to visit your schools? What does it feel like to experience an exhibition, etc.? And so I will talk about two specific instances of experience around the topic of loss and longing because that is the curricular theme within our group that is really resonating with me personally.

Experience 1

I went to the MCA to rehearse my pecha kucha presentation for the NAEA curriculum slam. While I was at the museum I visited two exhibitions, Doris Salcedo and Body Doubles. When I'm in the museum I look for a piece of work to move me in unexpected ways. I was prepared to feel moved by Salcedo's work around loss and mourning through her reconstructed objects. I felt the weight of dead bodies in the cumbersome tables that we had to navigate to get into the exhibition. These tables felt insurmountable and difficult. I thought,  get out of my way tables, but the whole point was that I had to walk through, in and around these objects/dead bodies. We must go through our grief.

This piece translates loosely to "silent prayer" and emerged out of a research process that involved looking at gang violence in LA. Salcedo "noted how victims and perpetrators of gang violence often share socioeconomic circumstances that lead to conditions of increased violence. They are often viewed as lesser in the eyes of broader society. The work was also made in response to Salcedo's experience of mass graves she visited with grieving mothers in Columbia who were searching for their missing sons."- MCA catalogue notes

Doris Salcedo, Plegaria Muda
The piece that moved me in an unexpected way was a film by Wu Tsang within the Body Doubles exhibition based on a Japanese book/movie. I felt caught off guard by the absolutely real sentiments that came out of the actors mouths. While at times they seemed cliche ("say you love me"), Tsang is playing with the Spanish telenovela genre in this film, other times the words seemed piercingly true. And perhaps this is how we play our lives too, melodrama mixed with feelings of true loss, longing and desire. It would be interesting to see how students feel about this film as it plays with queerness and doubleness. Queerness isn't just the act of being gay but also the idea of otherness.

Experience 2

Yesterday I visited Deni Drinkwater's 8th graders at Edison. I really enjoyed sitting with Deni during her prep to review our parallel histories and to consider what a contemporary art curriculum can look like. Many members of our group have overlaps in where you studied, and who you student taught with, etc. You have a strange sort of ancestral lineage. We should map it some time. You would be surprised.

I was moved by a conversation with an 8th grade male student. We sat at the computer and talked about Mark Bradford, hurricane Katrina and the possibility of not getting into a selective enrollment high school. He got into Northside. I said, "What would you do if you didn't get into one of these schools?" He said, "I never thought I wouldn't". I was really stunned to think about how we cannot be fully prepared for the way loss, longing and discomfort creep up on us. What happens when everything that we thought would happen falls apart? I trust that this student will do well at Northside and yet there is no way to be fully prepared for what might come to us in the way of loss and longing. Our students represent a kind of potential and perhaps this is what makes teaching so appealing. We are witness to student's potential everyday. I wonder, how do we attend to our potential, loss, and longing as teachers?

I have to be prepared for the unexpected to move me, shake me and force me to attend to uncomfortable feelings. This is where our curricular themes and life start to over lap. Writing the curriculum is a process of navigating all these feelings.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Vinyl Label Tape

This is what's happening in my classroom currently. I'm working with the 'label's group and my 7th graders are currently working on their tape artwork on the floor. As you can see we are still in the progress of taping our labels down on the floor. Our goal is fill up the tiles.
My entire 7th grade (~140 students &once a week) picked a label that best describe who they are (no repeats!). With scissors and exacto knife students use vinyl 1" tape to mark down their identity.