“It’s a Miguel” is turning out to be one of my favorite quotes of the year. A new school and a new country comes with many challenges and changes but one thing remains at the core of my practice “It’s a Miguel”. This quote comes from a dear Grade 2 teacher at my school that opened her doors and let the new Art teacher come in for seamless, organic integration revolving around students at the core. During the How We Express Ourselves integration our conversations were about providing just the right amount of support and encouragement to the students, not too much to interrupt the flow but just enough to delicately intervene with struggles. Sometimes the students surprised you… they’ve flourished! Sometimes they haven’t quite got there but you know what? “It’s a Miguel!” it may not be the best work but actually, he’s full of pride, he’s accomplished a work of art that’s sophisticated in its concept and for Miguel, it’s rather sophisticated in its construction. I’m proud of him, his homeroom teacher is proud of him, his Mother is proud of him and he’s proud of himself, hooray!
I had the pleasure of working with the lovely Mrs Burslem and her grade 8 students to wrap up their ‘BISS on the Road’ week. Art and Science intwined for the entire day on Friday with students going back and forth between the two classrooms to complete a 3 panel 100cm x 60cm collaborative artwork. In a nutshell, students spent three days at the Miao Liang Education Centre located amongst the Mi Yun mountains just outside of Beijing. Students learned about various and habitats and their ecosystems. For the Visual Arts side, students completed field drawings of flora and fauna in their art journals. They created color swatches by squashing leaves, flowers, dirt etc. onto their pages… this created an instant, beautifully subtle color palette for us to work with on the Friday. Students also collected various flora (and fauna!) samples to bring back to school. These samples were used for observational drawing and back in the science lab, students extracted lovely green, purple and brown pigments for our final collaborative artwork.
The artwork was inspired by the fabric collages of Martina Witte. Using the students own panorama photographs of Miao Liang, we traced and simplified the landscape onto linen. This was then cut up and hand dyed with the extracted natural pigments. The field drawings were enlarged and traced in black ink on watercolour paper and lightly colored with mixed paint that matched the colors collected in the filed. Dried grass samples were placed in the foreground. To give our artwork a context silk Chinese auspicious clouds were added and Ms Li (our Chinese language teacher) completed two beautiful chinese characters for the words ‘Miao’ – ‘Liang’. It was a wonderful project to be involved in, I only wish I had set up a camera in the corners of the two rooms to document the process in a time-lapse, next time!