Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Sky's The Limit at the Summer Program for the Blind

At the end of our week of fun and learning I asked one of my students what they had learned from our summer program for the blind, and he said, "I learned that the sky is really the limit."  He had learned for the first time in his life, how to put his head under water in a swimming pool, something he'd previously thought was impossible. That made me so glad that I lobbied for "The Sky's the Limit" to be our theme this year. For their art classes we screen printed t-shirts of hot air balloons.

We made paper rockets and shot them off PVC pipe rocket launchers. 

We made kites from dowels and bulletin board paper.

And we took pictures with the photo booths that I re-purposed from a "Fly Me to the Moon" 
themed prom.

Hopefully, each one of those kids will break through glass ceilings and despite their disability, realize that even if they miss when they shoot for the moon, they're still among the stars.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Out of this world Mural

They say that students never care what you know until they know how much you care. How do they know you care? By your listening intently to them talk about their interests, and letting them incorporate those interests into their classroom work.  I had one student who absolutely loved graffiti art, so I showed him examples of brilliant contemporary street art, then I gave him a can of spray paint and a wall.  Actually, he had to take the initiative in consulting the principal, finding a teacher to offer their wall, and coming up with the idea.  Then as a tiny team,  we made the sketches, and went to work.

Luckily, the science teacher was ready for a change from his large, off-white wall with a sun and the equation for photosynthesis. I took my three  students and we painted that wall black, around the sun.Then we recreated a sketch of the color system in chalk on the wall. We made a paper stencil to match each chalk planet, and hit it with a little spray paint.  The biggest challenges were creating ventilation (fans and open doors), making sure surfaces were covered before painting (and quickly wiping down those that weren't), and finally dealing with the equation coming through the layer of latex and spray paint.  We still need to go back and do a few more layers on Jupiter for that one to be fixed. I want my students know that I believe their ideas are worth pursuing even if they sometimes seem far-out.

Hoorah for Seurat!

I've always loved George Seurat's paintings and wished he had lived past his 30's. He is famous for using Pointillism, which is a technique in which tiny dots of color are placed next to each other and for the viewer's eye to blend, rather than mixing the two colors on the pallet, which can muddy the hue. It is a process that requires patience. "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte," the painting that inspired the musical "Sunday in the Park with George," took Seurat 2 years to complete. We spent 2 weeks on our projects.

We learned the concept of optic mixing by making a color wheel with dots made from red, yellow, and blue markers. The illusion of secondary colors comes from markers: green comes from mixing yellow and blue dots. For completely blind students, this can be done using 3 bags of small things to mix to represent secondary colors, such as: rice and sand, sand and beans, beans and rice.

While Seurat worked in the studio, he did sketches and studies on site, so we began by taking photographs on walks around campus. Then we drew in marker or puffy paint (for tactile artists).  Mr. Scent markers made finding the right base colors, before trying to be more accurate with nuanced paint colors.  Mistakes were plentiful but easy to hide and the end results were something fun and unusual. I hope my students each got the point of Pointillism.