“People speak different languages, because that’s how they are made.” Remy, age 5

“People speak different languages, because that’s how they are made.” Remy, age 5

Wow, it has been a looooong time since I last blogged.

I will start from today though, from now, November 12th, 2020.

And right now, I can share that it is not only possible to connect and create virtually with 3-6 year old humans in the Atelier, it is meaningful, compassionate, and inspiring.

There is still opening and closing rituals, music, stories, provocations, and just like being in person, there is sustained time where there is a flow of constructing, experimenting, and expressing (with music flowing and me, not talking.) And there is still Reggio Inspired Projects and the possibilities of expressing understandings in 100 Languages.

We began the school year with the provocation of Monarch butterflies and as they emerged and began their migration to Michoacán, Mexico, we moved from local to global. We moved from the simplicity that all living things migrate to the complexities of human migration.

Here is some documentation to connect you to the rigor, depth, and joy of our weekly one hour Atelier LIVE with Ms McLean.

To end this post, I leave you with a link and a quote.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is an extraordinary Mexican artist who uses technologies to create art about human connection. In 2019, I took both PreK classes to his interactive exhibit that connected human heartbeats and fingerprints to beautiful pulsing lights and waves. It was transformative.

He recently creating mind blowing art interactions at the US/Mexican border.

If you have 17 minutes to spare, watching this video by Art 21, Rafael Lozano Hemmer “Borderlands” will surely move you. I hope it will also give you perspective on the importance of the thinking and doing that children manifest in the Atelier. Children, in fact, imagined, like Hemmer, ways to connect people, despite the complexities of pandemics or borders.

Artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer on the Importance of Telling Complex, Nuanced  Border Stories - The Texas Observer
Hemmer’s installation allowed people in both Juarez and El Paso communicate by manipulating and crossing search lights and speaking into microphones that worked as a sound tunnel.

What Hemmer has imagined and created is not so different than Delilah or Aliya, both in PreK4

“There is art on the ground on both sides of the wall, and people can talk about it through the tunnel.” Delilah

“”I made a big chair in the Middle of the wall so the kids from both countries can sit together to talk or read books. Kids holding hands together and dancing I also draw a tree house with a balloon and a big bear.”  Aliya B., PreK4

Delilah
Aliya, PreK4

The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions that have been concealed by the answers.”
— James Baldwin

I hope you will engage through leaving comments, wonderings, or connections below. In gratitude.

Found & Lost & Found

elanorpaint

Dove, By Elanor

A few weeks ago a dove nested in the Arbor located on our playground.dove

The kids found it, and soon they were enthusiastically watching the dove watch them, as she sat on her eggs.

I decided to take small groups of children out first thing in the morning to observe and paint her.

outartIn the morning, it is quiet on the playground, with no kids screaming and playing.

We witnessed the papa dove bringing nesting material to the mama and watched as she tucked it into her nest carefully.

What an amazing gift. The small groups all seemed to possess a tranquility and peace as they sat in the early morning light, watching the mama and drawing and painting.

Here are some of their representations:

birdCamille Camille, PreK

reggie paint Reginald, PreK

dove2

Owen, PreK owen paint

David, PreK birdDavid

Danika, PreK birdDanika

Malin, PreK malinpaint

The children were excited to tell the security guard about the dove and show their representations.security

On Monday I returned with a small group to paint. The dove was gone.

birdGone

They painted the empty nest and theorized why she left. They decided they still wanted to paint the birds even thought they weren’t there.

BirdMaren

Maren: “Maybe they left because it’s horrid, not so good. The babies might go on the playground and get stepped on. Maybe she wanted a quiet place.”

birdMary

Mary: “I think they just wanted to visit someone’s house and because the baby birds rolled off the nest and flew.

BirdPaige

Paige: “I think they just wanted a new home instead of here. Maybe in another bird nest or a birdy house, maybe because this house was not too nice.

Maren: “Maybe she came here when no kids were playing on the playground and she said, ”This is a nice quiet place.” And then all the kids came and then she maybe just wanted to fly away and build a nest somewhere else because it wasn’t comfortable.”

They returned to their class and reported the missing bird as well as their theories.  While disappointing, both preK classes have chicken eggs in an incubator in their classroom.

Later that same afternoon there was a group of Kindergarten children in the studio working on their dream house stories, when a rainbow graced itself in a long stretch of the floor under the table. The sunlight managed to hit the water and reflect off an angle of the glass turtle tank in perfection. Estelle and Khalisa dove under the table to investigate. “Look Estelle colored her hair!!”

foundrainbow1

foundrainbow2

Last week it was a an unexpected find in the trash,

LightAlex

LightElanor(Elanor, representation of light)

LightBeck(Beck, representation of light)

LightLydia(Lydia, representation of light)

lightLilahLydia

this week an unexpected find of a nesting dove (and then loss) in nature, and then by days end there was a rainbow wrapping around our feet. Provocations unplanned never cease to amaze me.

Wonder, discovery, metaphor… continue to be profound principles that guide, inspire, and  provoke learning for both the children and the adults. Not only do these unplanned valued interactions promote engagement, they spark possibilities for growth and perhaps projects in the future. They offer conversation. They offer beauty. They offer confusion. They offer possibilities. They offer imaginings.

(Lilah, representation of light) LightLilah

Important work.

PS If you happen to live in the DC MD VA area, I have a piece of art entitled Sparrows, 1-9 at the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center. The exhibit is “Greenspiration.” Opening this Sunday, May 16th 2-4pm

sparrow3detail(detail) Sparrow, 1-9 By Marla McLean

Last but not least

I am currently in Boston, visiting my son who is a student at Berklee College of Music. Last night we were talking, and he told me about this moment he had, where he was practicing flute, it had been hours of planned playing, and then, he didn’t even realize it but his eyes were closed, and the music was just happening.

More and more, I am fascinated by these moments, where time and space disappear, and creativity happens, almost in an altered state. It is a deeply personal moment, so I am truly amazed at being a witness to it in the studio, to actually seeing it.last5

The child, who keeps on working, unaware and/or uncaring that they are now alone, strikes me. Because in fact, they are not alone at all- they are in connection with the creative force that resides within. I call this phenomenon the “last child.” You know, the child who for some reason does not notice that everyone has moved on and is the last one working. They are still painting, sculpting drawing. They are not always the same type of child. In fact, I have seen this happen to both extremely social and extremely introverted children. I have seen this with children whose engine can run very fast and very slow. Once again, I am interested in the altered state where, as Howard Gardner says, the Creative self is like a laser beam, and nothing around it exists.

I have touched upon this in many prior blog posts.

Recently, I have been grabbing my camera and documenting some of these “last” children. To me, it is an affirmation. It is the image of the child, as strong and powerful. No TV or computer needed.  It is a reminder of the possibilities within all children.

Last 2

Last 3

Last1babe1 babe 2

babe 3babe4

babe 5

babe6