I recently completed a two-week art residency that was sponsored by the Ohio Arts Council’s Artful Aging Ohio program that is “committed to enhancing the quality of life for seniors through meaningful experiences in the arts”.
I was based at the Granville Senior Center in Granville, Ohio, but also taught in two assisted living centers. Below is a gallery of photos from the residency and some quotes from my students. I enjoyed getting to know them all and I enjoyed providing them with an art experience that they found meaningful and different than the activities they normally encounter.
“You don’t know what it will be or what it will look like—just start making something!” –Don
“You don’t even know how much I’ve enjoyed this. And I’m shocked to have enjoyed it so much.” –Beulah
“This was different than anything they would have done with us here.” –Millie
“I enjoyed you doing this. It was great to have you here to do this.” –Lois
I just finished a week sharing my art and my process with the children at Patchwork Central, where most of the time the children see me as the Co-Director and camera lady.
It was fun to share my sculpture with them, and it was very fun to see the art that they created. It was also great to work again with my friend and fellow artist Jane Case Vickers. I started my career in community art almost 18 years ago by teaching art as Jane’s assistant in Patchwork’s Arts & Smarts Children’s Program.
I was very glad to get to teach with Jane again–I think she’s a great artist and a great teacher. We’ve always been attracted to similar materials and have similar artistic inspirations. We’ve done several projects and exhibits together.
One of these collaborative projects was called “Earthen Vessels”. We each created a series of female figures that explored the human form as a container for emotions and experiences. Each figure expressed an individual emotion or memory using found fabrics and found objects that we felt were symbolic of the theme.
The images above show my work paired with Jane’s. The first shows Jane’s depiction of Guilt (titled “Guilt: She’s Got a Belly Full of Walnuts”) and my depiction of Love. The second shows my depiction of Loss and Jane’s depiction of Healing. They range from 64″ tall to 40″ tall.
When we took these photos, we intentionally paired a more positive emotion with a more negative one to highlight the interaction between the two.
Part of the concept behind the “people” that I created during my most recent arts residency was that they would travel around Coshocton and appear in “Unexpected Places” for the month following their creation.
I recently checked the Pomerene Center’s online gallery and was excited to see that they’re having a great time traveling around to all of the participating children’s schools. It’s fun to see how the project that I set in motion is continuing.
There are more photos of the people and their travels on the Pomerene Center for the Arts’ website.
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.
As part of the art that the 3rd and 4th graders made with me in Coshocton, each group was asked to write about the body part they had constructed and the materials they had used, kind of like I do with my art. In response, they wrote many wonderful things.
Here’s a great selection of the kinds of things that they thought to include in their reflections. In case you can’t read them well, here’s a translation (with corrected spelling for ease of reading):
The head came from the Salvation Army, so it has a lot of story behind it. The hair we found in a bucket in art class. The flower was right beside the hair so we KNEW it was a perfect match. The hood was made from a very special fabric. It actually has a lot of story behind it too.
Lane’s shirt that Mom won’t let him wear. Emily’s nice, cozy gloves. Brandon’s ring. Colton’s great sewing.
The pink pants is when I first went to the doctor to get my shot. –Tatum. The jeans are what I wore on my first day of 2nd grade.–Arianna. The jeans is when I went to first day of 1st grade.–Tatum. I used the jeans for the pocket. I cut some of the designs.–Shalcey
The pants I brought in was my favorite pants I ever had. Now the pants are going to be a fake person.
Here’s another one of the people I made with the 3rd and 4th grade classes in Coshocton. Remember each limb was constructed by a group of 3-5 kids working together. On this one, I love the Hannah Montana legging that became an arm, the goalie glove hand (with ring!), and the fact that you can see the buttons on the shirt that got wrapped up and stuffed in a stocking to become the head.
It was up to me to figure out how to put all the pieces together and, like actual people, these people are all wired together in different ways. On this one’s shoulders, you can see the exposed “bones” made out of cable donated to the Pomerene Center by a phone company. On this person, I drilled through it and tied the bones together.