The Prek 3 Classes have emabarked on a project. The children started talking about “statues” a few months ago when I had them working on a collaborative wire sculpture in the studio. Their excitement about seeing sculptures and statues in Washington, DC got the classroom teachers and I planning a trip to the National Sculpture Garden. They already “owned” the sculptures in their neighborhoods and parks, we were curious on how they would own sculptures in a formal DC space. This documentation sheds some light and reflection on the ongoing experiences.
“I have found that my (art) work tells me what I’m interested in. It tells me what I’m doing in the territory I’ve landed in.”
These words really resonated with me. As I revisited my personal work in my grown up studio this weekend, I could see that my work informed me of my thinking during diverse periods in my life.
Artist as mark maker. As a mark maker in the specific moment they are creating. Artist as archiver. It is why artists are so dangerous to repressive regimes. Artists mark time in powerful symbolic ways, reacting, speaking expressing.
This idea makes me think of the listening I do every day.
With 4, 5 and 6 year olds.
Are they not also marking time in the territory they are in right now?
The following is the path behind, through and around one of the current PreK projects. As long and wordy as this documentation is (and I apologize for this), there is so much more to consider. I hope you will join in “listening” to what is often invisible.
I am posting a sampling of the transcribed work. There was not one that was better than another. Each piece marks the territory where each individual child has landed, right now. It is deepened by the context of being in a small studio group, where ideas are experimented, disseminated, constructed, shared and exclaimed over.
I was thrilled with Gaia’s verbal description for getting bigger or getting fat as “make more big.” Gaia’s first languages are Spanish and Italian. Her taking a risk and telling me a story in English in which she came up with verbal strategies to be heard is quite remarkable!
Hearing Artist Carrie Mae Weems speak after I wrote this, I would like to add another question:
Why is this work/research so very important? At this moment? In this territory? Right now? With young children?
Lessons learned…for all of us.
On Friday, February 5th, we arrived at school knowing that a huge snowstorm was coming our way. The Federal government was on leave and DC Schools were closing at noon.
On that same Friday, as anticipation grew, and flakes of snow began to fall, Swatantar Mann, the assistant teacher in room 9 arranged for a friend, Ms. Clare, to visit the Kindergarten classes.
Clare came to share the stories within the movements of indian dance.
Despite the heightened mood all around, the children were transformed with scarves, fabrics, and Swatantars jewels & beads and mesmerized by the calm and mystic stories of Ganesha, Shiva, Hanuman and more.
moving fiercely without making a sound, and using the eyes to become a character were just some of the exercises.It was just so beautiful to watch the calm and concentrated effort that went into each movement.
And then it was noon.
It took over an hour to drive 7 miles home as the city evacuated. By evening the world around us was eerily quiet and postcard quaint with glittering snow everywhere. When Saturday morning arrived, we knew for sure that “Snowmageddon” arrived.
In complete agreement with the 100 languages:
my husband and I sang as we shoveled, and we danced to entice our little dog to go outside. My daughter (who leaves for Brazil on Tuesday where it is 95 degrees) and I created a Snow Goddess sculpture.
In a few days, when I become fatigued and annoyed by trying to negotiate getting to and from work, parking spaces, and the grocery store, I hope I will look at the smiling Goddess on our front lawn and remember the smell of freshly baked brownies in the oven and the feeling of contentment as I wrote this post.