Tag Archives: children

Patchwork Central Residency

Patchwork Central artwork

the making of a character

In June when we needed a last minute guest artist to lead sculpture week at Patchwork Central (where I normally work as Co-Director), I was happy to jump in. I enjoyed interacting with the Arts & Smarts participants in a way that was different than I usually do. They were wonderful students.

We created fabric people. For our materials we pulled clothing out of Patchwork’s small clothing bank and used them in addition to the regular art supplies that have been donated to the Arts & Smarts program. I’ve done this project with many groups now, but each time I lead it, things go in new and interesting directions. This time around, each sculpture became a fleshed out character and its creator wrote its backstory.

On the last day of the class, we went around the room and everyone shared the story behind their character. It became a wonderful storytelling circle in which everyone was encouraged and celebrated. It was wonderful.

Below is a slideshow of the art that was created. If you click on an image, you’ll be able to read the story that accompanied it.

Photography

Dusty

My parents first gave me a camera when I was four or five. Prior to that, I remember running around making a fake viewfinder with my hands and “taking pictures” with it. Dad developed some of my first photos in his amateur basement darkroom. I have never studied photography, but have learned from excellent photographers especially Calvin Kimbrough who documented life at Patchwork for decades.

Over the last fifteen years I have worked in many different community arts programs in which photographs have provided both a record of the learning that takes place and a compelling reason for people to become involved. I also enjoy using the camera as a way to interact with people. It’s an opportunity for me to observe the children and what they’re doing and to get to know them and their unique characters in the process.

So, have I somewhat inadvertently added photographer to my list of artistic endeavors?

Student Art from the Jasper Show

Student art: a bundle

As part of our show in Jasper, Jane and I led a workshop for a group of local high schoolers.  We talked about our art some and they looked at the show. Then we went to the workspace downstairs and made some art.

We all constructed bundles of objects with the thought that they would be hung from a tree outside to weather.  It was an idea that Jane and I had tried out earlier. I thought the kids came up with some great ideas and interesting construction techniques. In a way, we were manufacturing the kinds of objects that Jane and I collect from the street and other interesting places.

We provided a lot of odds and ends–fabric, paper, markers, thread, yarn, feathers, old toys, bolts, washers, pop cans, magazines, old Starbucks gift cards–even a Girl Scout cookie. They were asked to bring some object that they found around where they lived, and some did.

Above is one: a bundle of bundles. There was also one that made wings out of the Starbucks cards so it would spin. Several others got innovative with markers. Some even pulled the felt out of the inside of the markers and hid them at the center of their bundles with the thought that in the rain, the dye would seep out.

The teachers said they’d hang the art up outdoors at the school. I hope they did and that Jane and I can see it when we go back to take the show down.

Fresh Starts in 2013

Bead Collection

There’s nothing like an upcoming deadline to help me be productive. Jane Case Vickers and I have a show coming up in April at the Krempp Gallery at the Jasper Arts Center in Jasper, Indiana.

This weekend I’m working to make art out of my sister’s bead collection. I had one, too. When we were in elementary school or junior high, we discovered a store in Toledo, Ohio that sold nothing but beads. Our bead collections are the result of hours spent searching through all the glittering cups of beads. We would sort them, string them, resort them, and restring them.

I’m working to find a way to highlight the beauty and value that my sister and I gave to these things of little real value, and through that, broader themes of collecting, saving, creating value, and creating beauty.

Flying Away

Here are two more of the wonderful “people” that I made with 3rd and 4th graders during my art residency in Coshocton. As with the finished “people” I posted earlier, I love getting to share my art with kids, challenging them to see unusual materials as art, and helping them to make their own art.

These “people” were made from the children’s own cast off clothing. The kids worked in groups of 3-5 to make body parts for the figures. Then I assembled all the parts into complete figures. The kids also got to see some of my work in a show that’s up in one of the art center’s galleries.

The photos really can’t do justice to the sculptures. Especially since each body part represents considerable concentrated effort, there’s a very high level of detail and complexity–patches on top of patches, a bead here to signify one thing, a complicated little pouch stitched on and filled with something. The kids did a great job of putting thought into what they did instead of just throwing some things together and calling the art “done”.

We made a total of 10 “people”. You can see photos of the works in progress here.