This summer I will be an art instructor in a three week intensive program in Boston called Artsbridge. I am incredibly excited and honored to be a part of this program and will be updating my blog regularly over the summer as the experiences there unfold…so keep checking back! Below is a description of the program, courtesy of their site at:
(image to left: from last summer’s program)
The mission of Artsbridge, Inc. is to provide a safe environment, which cultivates creativity, voice, respectful listening and dialogue in order to empower today’s youth to become leaders in the quest for peace in and between their own communities.
For generations, children on both sides of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict have witnesses and suffered trauma. Though most have never met their Israeli or Palestinian counterpart, they have come to see “each other” as “the enemy.” There is no trust, and no sense of understanding for the lived experiences of the other. For many Palestinian and Israeli youth, there is difficulty imagining a future that includes peace and coexistence with their neighbors. As hard as it is to imagine peace and coexistence, it is even harder for them to recognize they have potential to bring about positive change in their environment and their future.Israeli and Palestinian youth who participate in Artsbridge will discover a process that facilitates the safe expression of their desires and fears. Through Artsbridge these youth will be introduced to the tools that can help then envision the prospect of a future which includes peaceful coexistence. They will learn to see themselves as creative, empowered individuals with the ability to work towards affecting positive changes in their environment, while developing leadership skills that will help them empower others.
The Artsbridge Approach
In order to make a lasting impact on its participants, Artsbridge uses a holistic approach unique among Israeli-Palestinian educational programs. Artsbridge integrates expressive arts therapy, dialogue and art making. The therapeutic component enables participants to articulate and process their own trauma. Through a reflective dialogue model they learn to hear, understand and honor the experiences of those who live on the other side of the conflict. Through art making they find common ground, work cooperatively and create something new and positive together.The Artsbridge staff are art therapists, artists and psychologists who have experience working with youth from many walks of life. They also represent various sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
I wanted to share a few more pictures of art projects from the past few weeks that my students have been creating. I mentioned the Van Gogh inspired finger paintings that we had done recently. The children loved manipulating the thick acrylic paint and I showed them how to “draw” with their fingers, by scraping away some of the layers of paint in different shapes and patterns. A couple of their pieces are on the right.
In some classes we created monoprints (like the one on the left), just by rubbing a second piece of paper over their original painting. The children were able to see their unique paintings recreated in a second form, which delighted many of them.
Recently we have been paying extra attention to texture and experimenting with combining varied materials. In our most recent project I handed out large squares of cardboard and then presented the children with a colorful pile of odds & ends…beautiful pieces of decorative paper, aluminum foil, string, plastic gel sheets, bubble wrap, glitter, and paint. The final ingredient was “mod podge” which is an acrylic medium that dries clear and can be used to glue & varnish projects. With giant brushes dipped in mod podge paste the children spent most of the class time collaging these different elements together. I was fascinated to see which materials different children were drawn to and whether or not they layered the materials or preferred to keep elements separate. I encouraged the children to explore the texture with their fingers as they placed the pieces on the cardboard. It was a very fun class – both for me and the kids…I love the process of gathering the materials, setting them out, and then watching the children engaging in some “serious” creating:)
I have been teaching art to children part time for the past few months and am greatly enjoying it! My kids are very young – from 1.5 years old up to around 4 years old. Since the children are so young, in many ways, it’s less about teaching art, and more about guiding the children through the exploration of art materials…textures, colors, shapes, and feelings. The theme for this semester’s classes is “famous artists” and so we have been exploring the work of artists like Matisse, Monet, Pollock, & Van Gogh each week. Each class explores a different artist and the techniques & themes that are unique to his/her work.
Here are a few pictures of projects that we did for different artists:
Monet (right) ~ After looking at pictures of some of Monet’s water lily paintings, we applied colorful torn tissue paper and a glue paste on construction paper. When the tissue paper was wet, the children noticed that the different colors bled together to create new colors in addition to the colors created by the overlapping paper. I explained that Monet had created his pieces by layering many different colors of paint in a similar way, to create pictures rich in depth & light.
Pollock (below) ~ A few weeks ago we talked about Jackson Pollock and his famous drip paintings. I handed out colorful construction paper and bowls of liquid glue. I showed the children how to dip a spoon in the glue and then dribble it all over the paper – creating different abstract lines, shapes, and both thick and thin lines. After applying the glue I presented them with containers of different brightly colored sand which they sprinkled over the glue. After shaking off the excess sand, they were left with beautiful sand splatter art!
Van Gogh (not pictured) ~ This week we are learning about Van Gogh and specifically looking at his painting “Starry Night.” In class we have been using finger paint and applying it thickly onto paper. Then, the children are using their fingers or other tools to carve into the texture and create patterns and images in the paint, as Van Gogh applied thick oil paint to canvas and then shaped it with his palette knife & brush.
Each class begins with some free painting time at the easel. The children have many jars of paint to choose from and are encouraged to experiment with color mixing & mark making. I am always amazed at this process and how at ease the children seem to be at the easel – even the first time painters!
I have noticed how much working with these “little artists” has inspired my own studio practice. The children approach art making wholeheartedly and with such trust in the process. In fact, especially at this age, it is the process and not the product that truly matters. Similarly, with my own art making, the best studio sessions are when I am completely immersed in the process, and not overly preoccupied with the finished product.