Life is a maze in which we explore different paths. Ultimately if we give way to our imaginations we will find our true center.
Years of working with kids, teachers, and families in schools led me, after many twists and turns, to reshuffle my passions. Schools and curriculum. Curriculum and Art. Art and schools. I discovered that if I imagined it I could make it happen.
When I set out on my ART works quest in 2013 my goal was to learn from teachers who know why Art matters. 2014 was a good year. I observed in classrooms at Charles River, Dover, MA, Cold Spring School, New Haven, CT, North Haven Community School, North Haven ME, Sweetland School, Hope, ME, Watershed School, Camden ME, and Waynflete School, Portland, ME. Conversing with and trying to assimilate what experts do – those who make Art part of all learning, it became clear to me that
Children’s inspirations often reflect their teachers’ passions, energy, and delivery. When adults set the stage for dabbling and exploration – when they view Art as a process that develops over time, that exists in a context, that flows from trial and error to maybe success, then each of us learns from that experience. Kids and teachers can then dare to push further.
Kids who’d read some folktales studied more, making meaning from them and creating their own representational collagraphs. Empowered to become deep thinkers, they leapt from one subject to the next, letting their imaginations fly.
Four weeks, eight blogs, twelve hours, endless high quality student prints, two community exhibitions, and many exhuberant feelings later, the project came to an end. We recognized it was just the beginning of LEAPS for children in lots of schools for years to come. “If I’d seen that print in a gallery in Manhattan, I’d think it would cost a fortune,” one viewer noted. Others appreciated our efforts too, and at the end of 2014 the Davis Family Foundation awarded our new sponsor, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, $10,000 to propel LEAPS of IMAGINATION forward through 2016.
Having the chance to develop student programming for the Center for Maine Contemporary Art has really got me thinking. Every Wednesday afternoon we took our group to the galleries and then to the ARTLab, reflecting on Art before we made our own.
Kids looked closely, then, like their teachers, they became inventors.
Working directly with kids, but now in Art, has brought me back to a familiar but entirely new arena. Schools, classrooms, studios, galleries – are all laboratories in which we can expand and/or focus our thinking. Dive in. Develop our theories. Make errors. Learn from those around us. Take risks. And keep a record of our ideas.
I know I will be at this for a long while yet, letting my imagination run to new places and spaces.