I have been documenting on blogs for years and one of the challenges of all documentation (blogs included) is the dependence on objectivity from a very human and subjective author. Which is to say that where the observer focuses becomes what the reader sees and hears about. As we all know, life is a complex web of movement, activity, experience and discovery. No matter how wide we train our eyes we are never able to fully track all of it and we are less able to impart some of it. As I work with children I watch for overlapping themes of interest. These string together and elucidate some aspect of how children learn and create themselves. These common threads are woven into blog entries, documentation panels and exhibit ideas. Yet, I am acutely aware that while attending to one thing, I am inclined to miss something else. For this reason I take lots of pictures and jot down pages of notes. I occasionally pass these pages out to my coworkers and together we read them, looking for intersects, like archaeologists sift through sand. It never ceases to surprise me, when something obvious rises to the surface that had been otherwise overlooked. The studio presently has an overt leaf project evolving that I will address in a later post, for now I would like to showcase some of the activities on the periphery. Those things that often go undisclosed, but may be the seeds of future projects, or simply an episode of discovery, beautiful in itself.
We have shelves stocked with a variety of tools: dot markers, oil pastels, markers, colored pencils, large crayons, etc. These tools are organized by color and available for exploration. There are pre-cut sheets of white drawing paper nearby. This student selected several dot markers and worked for ten minutes, carefully filling the page.This student made several paintings, this one he called "an evergreen on fire". His title was inspired by the palette of warm colors available, each brushstroke accompanied by an ongoing dialogue, a story emerging in color, line and paint.The light projector is a source of continuous intrigue. It has been in the studio since the start of the year and children are still somewhat shocked to see the image projected in scale. Many students stare at the bright surface of glass holding a leaf or stone and when their eye is directed to the translated image in shadow, they are giddy with excitement.Others are captivated by how it works. They examine the projector from all angles, exploring its mechanics with interest.This week, a child was moving the reflective mirror at the top and it snapped back on its hinge, shifting the light from the wall to the ceiling. She was amazed by what she saw. Soon several other students joined her, each eager to project a shadow on the ceiling. Light and shadow seems to be unanimously captivating to young children and continues to be a source of discovery in the studio. Another interesting evolution is an interest in the human body, particularly with the students in the 440 class and the extended primary students who have begun a study of the body, its parts and systems. This student arrived at school carrying a pencil sketch of a human skeleton that he had traced on the back of his brothers homework. He came into the studio and asked if he could "make it bigger". Of course, I said "YES!". He was deeply focused on this activity and continued drawing and painting for nearly thirty minutes. Those are just a few of the things emerging on the periphery of our leaf study. We will see how things evolve in the weeks and months ahead.