Thursday, May 6, 2010

Guest Artist at the Carey School

Yesterday I had the priviledge of being the guest artist at the Carey School, an elementary school in San Mateo. Raymond Difley, a fellow San Francisco artist, is the art teacher there and had asked if I would like to come and speak to his students about what I did, as an artist, give a demo, and then lead an art lesson for the older students. I was used to teaching older kids since I teach middle school math but I wasn't sure how my artwork or demos would go over with elementary students and whether I would be able to relate to such young children.

My presentation started with a talk about what is encaustic wax and about my process in my latest series. I also showed my video "Forgotten Memories" that Ben Morse had made me before I wowed them with my use of a blow torch as I fused clear medium onto a painting. The kids really liked my blow torch! There was a lot of touching and feeling of the different surfaces (fused and unfused) and then I answered a lot of questions. The younger kids (pre-K, K, 1st and 2nd) had some great questions and really challenged me. It was nice to see them really appreciate my art and want to know everything about it. I was impressed with their knowledge and understanding, which I am sure had a lot to do with the great art education Raymond was giving them.

The older kids (grades 3-5) had a longer session. In addition to my lecture and demo, I then led them in a collage project where they were to pick an old photo, think about the memory it was capturing, and use that photo in a collage that would depict this idea. We covered the collages in encaustic wax and then the students did graphite transfers along with carving out drawings in the wax and wiping paint into the recessed areas. We didn't get to finish the assignment while I was there but what they did accomplish was pretty impressive, especially the last class of the day.

I'm glad to see that not all schools have completely cut out an arts program from their curriculum. So many times, art and music classes are the first things to go in a budget crisis. Without these classes we are not allowing children to explore their creative potential, and for some of these kids, this is vital. Creativity helps students do well academically also and allows them to be well-rounded students, and in this day and age, well-rounded indviduality is important. The Carey School is a private school, which is probably one of the reasons it can still have an art program (and from the looks of the the art displays around the school, it is a good one) but wouldn't it be great if EVERY chiild could learn about art? If EVERY child could explore their creative potential?

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