Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Don't Owe Anyone An Explanation

For this project we had irregular corrugated cardboard rectangles cut from boxes with which we were done playing, glue in cups, paint brushes, and squares cut from matte board scraps we got for free from a local framing shop.

Okay, so as Addison pointed out the squares weren't all exactly square. I eyeballed it while using the paper guillotine. I sometimes let the kids use the guillotine themselves, but when I do it's about the machine and waiting a turn for the machine and being safe with the machine. There will be other days for that.

I'm trying to put myself in their shoes this morning as I review what they produced, to remember what it was like to move my body around with my child's brain; before I'd become addicted to accomplishment, doubt, praise, and debt.

When we cut up this cardboard box, which had once been packaging for an electric fan, we assumed that it would be the plain white side that would be turned up. Lily saw it differently, boldly choosing to arrange her matte board tiles against the backdrop of found commercial imagery. It looks to me like she let the patch of blue guide the placement of some of the tiles, as if they all belong in there, but are being blown away by the breeze from the fan that was once in the box.

Meyra made choices about color, tumbling gold squares together here . . .

. . . then burgundy ones in this piece. Of course, I'm sure she noticed, as she carefully picked these out, that these particular bits came from matte board with a fuzzy, felt-like finish. Maybe she felt each of them with her finger tips as she placed them.

Henry created a vignette, calling his "Tire and Glue Store." Look how much effort went into arranging all those white tiles in a stack like that, first the larger ones, then the smaller, with one pink one on top. And over there, in the upper right corner, that black square with four smaller ones on top, each a different color; I think that's the tire store. He knew exactly what he was doing with this piece. That blue one up there, protruding slightly beyond the edge of his base; it means something, maybe it's the sky.

Charlotte chose a rather tattered, irregular base upon which to create this exercise in order. These aren't works in which children doused a surface with glue then scattered crumbs upon the sea. No, each piece in each of these products is intentional: a choice of color, size, positioning, and even orientation. You can see it here, many stacks arranged from larger to smaller, in rows. Her brain lived here as she made it, concentrating on each step it took to create. What did she think of that one small, small square all alone at the bottom?

Sylvia also clearly had something in mind, but again, there's that lone square floating up there above it all, like a signature or a fairy godmother or a small, square, pink life-giving sun.

Rex looks like he was on to something, but got called away.

Here's one I started. The green-black pattern across the bottom is mine. I then walked away, leaving it on the table. This is how I found it on the drying rack.

But even when the pattern isn't so obvious, the architectural aspects not so evident, each one of these works is the result of an elaborate, step-by-step thought process.

There's no other way to create these things than one piece at a time, intentional choices, trails, errors, failures, successes.

They tell stories or express emotions or simply track a path to mastery.

They are all evidence of a process involving corrugated cardboard, matte board squares, cups of glue, and paint cups.

I remember being a child when I look at these. Everything, every little thing, is a matter for my brain, my fingers. Everything here is a decision, made for a purpose, made with a plan in mind. Nothing is random.

And I don't owe anyone an explanation . . . Although if you ask, I might be happy to give you one.

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Sonya at The Three Bears Get Crafty said...

I love that you try to put yourself into the kids' shoes. I could almost see the little gears in their minds working while I read this post. :) Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

You know what I really love? Well, just one of the things I really love....is that the children in your school are free to create from their own imagination. There is no adult telling them how they should place the squares, how it looks "best", how it looks prettiest...each one of those creations was marvelous and different and unique. Just like each of the children who made them. Love it & love you! :)

Unknown said...

I always love coming to see what is going on in your world.
Or theirs : )
Either way, I click away with a smile on my face.
Thank you for being a teacher.
Thank you for changing the world.

michelle said...

Thanks for being you!! You are such a special teacher, one I aspire to become one day!!

Lesley @ early play said...

Love looking at these interesting creations. It looks like so many kids got involved which is what it's all about.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how you manage to continuously write such incredibly thought provoking and special pieces, whilst being an amazing teacher. We look at your ideas and how you at children's worlds and use it to help us learn to improve our practice in a nursery in Glasgow, Scotland.
You are not only a wonderful teacher in your setting, but making an impact on children's lives far away too.
Depute Head Teacher
Elmvale primary and nursery class, Glasgow

blahblahblah said...

Lovely. I remember my own kindergarten was pretty crazy great but thats because it was 1976. We had this giant barrel full of scraps of wood , bottle caps and hammers. We could hammer and assemble these pieces and take them apart at will and it was my favorite play station. No one stood over me while I hammered nails but if I needed help getting the bottle cap off to reapply it somewhere someone would show me how to do and then hand it back. We did long term projects with paper and fabric. For the whole month of december we cut scraps of fabric, pushed them into styrofoam balls, put in pins and tied them with fabric to make quilted ornaments. We had plenty of time, there was no rush. That was a long time ago and it was so important to me and so fun that it is still a very vivid memory. This art project you did is the same idea. This is great, what you see in small people is wonderful.