Sunday, April 12, 2015

Trickster Collages

These kinds of collages are few and far between and by far between, I mean that these were created by 3 and 4-year olds in 2010 and we haven't done anything like this since then. The reason for this is that a parent had given me a handful of World Wildlife Fund calendars and I had enough large format African and North American animals for the children to work with. It was a kind of perfect storm -- supply could meet demand PLUS the animals included in the calendars are all featured in the trickster tales we read with the children. When you have a large class, resources become a leading factor in imagining the completion of a process.

There were sixteen of these finished pieces and I only have a handful photographed and didn't photograph the process at all. I hope the description of how these were created will help. Please let me know if you have questions...
Lion Trickster and Starry Moons
Zebra Gets Her Beauty
To begin, I folded 18"x12" sheets of construction paper in thirds. We talked about how there would be three sections of paint to represent the sky at the top, the ground at the bottom and the middle distance or horizon line at the middle. All of these are pretty consistent with the books we had been reading, especially those written by Mwenye Hadithi and illustrated by Adrienne Kennaway of which Lazy Lion (see below), Hungry Hyena, and Crafty Chameleon are favorites.


Even with the folding, I found that the horizon line was not that distinct division of sky and land that you would see with the big sky country featured in the trickster tales we were reading. I worked with the children to cut the painted papers into two strips. The children then used random pieces of landscapes cut from National Geographic magazines that the older children from the Summer Art sessions had collected and not used in their own collages to further indicate "land" in the collages. The sun/moon/star circle shapes were left over from yet another project.

We teach a glue wash and brush technique for most collages. This process creates a flat surface for collage pieces to adhere to and when a last layer is applied to the top, this seals the entire construction and gives the weight needed to balance the shrinking of the various thicknesses of the papers used.

If you look at the eagle collage below, you will see where the glue brush and glue lifted the finish off the calendar print in torn bits revealing the white paper below. Happy accidents. No big deal. Over time the children learn to calibrate their use of the brush and glue. It is a great fine motor builder and crossing of the midline exercise. Imagine moving a great puddle of glue across a sheet of paper 18-inches wide. It requires just the right effort.

Eagle Helps Take Fire From the Yellow Jacket Sisters
After the collages were dry, the children gave them titles. The titles evoked the very tales that they had been reading. In this, we are able to see the connection these tales and their collages share.

Boulder Rolls Down Hill
Big Kicker
Bear Helps Out at Night

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Rose Petals

From the Smithsonian website
An Ofrenda for Dolores del Rio
Amalia Mesa-Bains, 1984, revised 1991
mixed media installation including plywood, mirrors,
fabric, framed photographs, found objects, dried flowers, and glitter
We went on a field trip to the American Art Museum in Washington DC to view Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art. The exhibit featured some stunning and thought-provoking works. Some of my favorites were the layered graphite on panels, Nocturnal (Horizon Line) Teresita Fern├índez and the marble and granite shipping pallets by Jesse Amado and of course, the two featured in this post.

The children were asked to document their favorite works at the end of the tour. I sent those home at the end of the field trip, so the opportunity for my reflection flew home with them, but we know that the exhibit had an impact because of conversations (with words and with materials) that have rolled out since then.

"Oh, you mean the painting with the red airplanes," one of the children said when I talked about how they would be working on their portrait backgrounds and asked them to remember the blue backgrounds which looked like the swirling of planets and stars in space or the whole of the colors of the earth, spinning. At first, I did not know what the child was referring to because I had been so focused on finding acrylics in blue, gold, and other shiny objects!

From the Smithsonian website
 The Dominican York, from the series Island of Many Gods
Scherezade Garcia, 2006
acrylic, charcoal, ink, and sequins on paper
And then there were the rose petals.

Each year, my husband brings me a dozen roses to the school for our anniversary in December. As the roses dry out, I harvest the petals and take them outside to the playground. This year, I put them in one of the wooden heart bowls my friend Kierna Corr of Learning for Life gave me. The bowl and the petals sat on a shelf and were forgotten. After the field trip, they found a new purpose surely inspired by Mesa-Bains' Ofrenda work!

The children check out the Ofrendo installation. They were so
careful to step around the rose petals on the floor.