“The purpose of life after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Kids have no fear when it comes to imagining and inventing their own art. That’s for sure. At both St George and Vinalhaven School this fall, children dove in head first, without taking a moment to test the waters. LEAPS’ objective is to give kids the mediums through which to tell their stories. Artists design school programs to connect with class curriculum, propel deep thinking, and promote themes of social justice. Children learn new skills and modalities for giving their ideas form. The relationships that evolve form the basis for creating art that is beyond what most students might imagine.
This post begins a series about LEAPS of IMAGINATION – a program in its second year in midcoast Maine’s public schools, where the budget for art has been severely cut. LEAPS’ most recent partnership is with St. George School and Jackson Memorial Library in Tenants Harbor, ME. With guidance from their teacher, we collectively addressed the question, “What is story?” At the outset, small groups determined their Big Idea. One cohort wanted to give their lead character a happy day. Each child offered up one way to make it happen.
“Our Big Idea was helping someone when they are having a hard day.” “We thought of ways we could brighten his day. How we brightened up his day was we gave him a friend. We taught him to swim. We gave him a flower. We gave him a cookie. We shook tails!” “I think it was a good day for him!”
Another group drummed up a story about Mr. Never and Mrs. Always, who eventually found one another and made a life together with their cat, Trouble. Each group created a series of original collagraphs that grew out of their idea-sharing explorations.
With two hour time slots on consecutive school days, LEAPS kids have the time to test their hypotheses, shift directions and weave in peer input.
As young artists and authors they are “living the process” of making their own meaning. They are creating something important from scratch, fully absorbed in the experience. As their mentors, we can’t help but be energized by their ability to focus, critique and marvel at their own designs. We’ve learned from them that no child is too young to apply good thinking or build the connective tissue between concepts. It’s up to us as adults to give them a context for making art happen.
Next time: Vinalhaven School Children Catch the Design Wave
We welcome you to a student art exhibition at Jackson Memorial Library on Friday, Dec. 4, 2015 at 1pm.