Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Words to Live By

Be kind.  Be kinder than you think yourself possible.  Be passionate.  Live fully, wholly, and unapologetically. Apologize when you’re a bonehead… for real.  Show gratitude.  Express joy.  Feel pain.  Empathize… with eye contact.  Slow down, breathe deeply.  Love hard… always.  Celebrate big and small.  Gather and  share.  Be brave.  Show praise.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Empty Chairs, Empty Boxes

     To stare at the computer screen after a day of chaotic teaching creates a tone of wishful longing to stretch out on the grass of the hillside that is in view from my classroom.  What a March already!  I was grilling at my daughter's birthday party the other day without a jacket.  There's no time like the present to start this mural, although state-mandated testing, budgetry, children neediness, and other various projects are overwhelming my excitement, turning it into the need for more vitamin D.  Right now, I'd like to be laying on a picnic blanket with my girls, eating strawberries and worrying about getting sunhats for their little heads. 
    Alas, I am in this classroom, typing away as the kiln room fan hums the noxious gasses into the air outside.  If you are wondering, I do worry about my footprint on the earth, but I digress.  I am feeling gloomy because the start of the mural was the antithesis of what I aspired it to be for the children.  I found myself in second period teaching to 5 children.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  So, what's a teacher to do?  Carry on, students!  We'll get 'em caught up when they come back!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Search Within

     "The nature of creation is that you have to go inside and dig out. The very nature of creation is not a performing glory on the outside, it’s a painful, difficult search within."                                                  — Louise Nevelson, Dawns & Dusks by Diana MacKown, 1976, p.72    

    I have made a greivous mistake.  I was distracted by the scarves, the quirky quotes, the overdone eye makeup.  I had writer's block, and so to get out of that rut, I typed in the word "hellion" on  That was what my initial research determined- that Louise Nevelson was a provacateur, a rascal.  Louise Nevelson is no hellion.  She's just herself.  She says what's on her mind, without much editing.   Louise Nevelson embodies all that is complex, intelligent, creative, and determined.  I was dead wrong about her; I only skimmed the surface. 
    Louise was a woman who was always on the outside of things.  She moved to Rockland, Maine from Russia when she was six, not speaking English.  She was immersed into a rural American culture with immigrant parents (where, incidently, she had a few run-ins with classmates over her fashion sense).  During her childhood, her father had a lumberyard where she built odd things out of the scraps left over. 
     After she met Charles Nevelson in her twenties, she realized that the married with children status did not suit her personality, so she left for Europe to study art.  (Charles went his own way, and her son was raised by her parents.)   At this point, you just have to believe that Louise was liking the outsider status. 

Nevelson, Luminous Zag, 1971

     During the 30's and 40's when Weezy started to step out in her own way artistically, she was not well-recieved.  Perhaps the female artist label affected the way others embraced her and her artwork, but I think that anything that is out of the fad-of-the-moment (in other words, anything that is too innovative) needs some time to break through.  She returned to New York and worked for almost 30 years before she saw any real success or positive notoriety from her artwork.  Most of the portraits that we see of Louise were taken during this famous period of her 70's and 80's when she was actually making some of the most gloriously entrapping pieces of her career. 
     I don't think that Louise ever really minded the struggle of creativity, or ever really that she wasn't well-received in the beginning.  What I've noticed about all of the artists that I've ever researched is that they are stubborn as hell.  I ponder at times over the daily struggles that these artists went through previous to their success.  Louise was one of the lucky ones who actually got to experience the accolades before passing at the ripe old age of 89.  Think about that poor guy Van Gogh.  He was tortured for years and never experienced any sort of appreciation for his life's work.  No wonder the guy cut off his ear and shot himself in the chest.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Waiting Game

The ins and outs of future boxes.
 This mural has commandeered my existence.  Grades?  Those don't have to be in until the END of the quarter!  Displays?  Psssh!  We'll be giving a great display at the END OF THE YEAR!  Any questions, class?  Ha!  Ask three, then me.
     My life slid into a huge pool of procrastination, and so I forced myself to catch up, hence the few blogs of recent.  I've cooed and snuggled with my children.  I've asked coworkers how they are doing!  I've been coaching my students in the way of their own personal projects (although in the back of my mind, I think that this teaching is simply a preparation for when the building of the more complex mural project comes along).  I am, afterall, a woman obsessed.

Pattern for each tile is color coded with guidelines.

     And so I now wait.  I have done all the preparation for this mural, deliberating on every nuance of the project.  My students are finishing their personal projects, painstakingly taking each detail into consideration... Which is good, right?  I want to say this is wonderful, but... I'm impatient.  Please get done, students, so that we can get started on the more important project... MY MURAL.  Er, no, wait... OUR MURAL.

Can we cut this up, yet?

     This will be a completely collaborative mural.  As indicated in the photos, I have given guidelines for the students so that we have an overall theme to the artwork, however each piece will have its own personality and flair.  Each student decides what will stick out three-dimensionally, and what will recess inward.  They will add borders and further details to it.  The students will even be able to hide quotes and their artist's signature within their boxes.  Do not fear, there will be copious personal touches that will make each tile individual.  However, the cheese can not stand alone.  These tiles on their own just don't make sense.  If each student took one of these home to mom and dad, what would the reaction be?  I can only assume that the poor child would be met with an obligatory, "That's nice, sweetie."  Afterwards, the parents would ask each other, "What was THAT?!"