Friday, December 31, 2010

Bulletin Board

What is a bulletin board? A collection of flotsam and jetsam. A visual cacophony. An assemblage of miscellaneous things that are tacked to cork panels. Pictures that trigger tactile memories. Details that inspire creativity. Random impressions layered one over the other.

These bulletin boards have been secured to the low narrow wall of my studio above the old pegged frame that use for my easel for 20 years. I look at them every single day and only now have realized that I have never given them their due. They include pictures that I enjoy, sentimental bits and pieces, photos from past, and other things that just plain inspire me.

The best part is that there is always room for more.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Goudy Murals

As a teaching artist in public schools in Chicago I initiate any number of art oriented programs. At Goudy School I was hired to paint a mural over an entry way on the 2nd floor. But within moments of my introduction to my team of 7th and 8th students I was certain we could create an additional mural on the third floor as well.

As a group we decided that the theme of the first mural would be the Cougar, the school mascot. The students prepared simple pencil sketches of cougars that I cut out and collaged to create the ‘working drawing’ on which the mural would be based. We then prepared four plywood panels onto which we transferred the images from the working drawing and shortly after that began to paint. We completed the mural in about 5 sessions.

The mural is called ‘Cougar Pride’, an imaginative, colorful and vibrant collection of cougars that reflect the interesting and widely (and wildly) diverse community of students that attend Goudy.

The second mural is called ‘The Goudy Garden’. It was also created from a collage of sketches. In this case the subject was flora and fauna and a reference to the actual garden in the yard outside of Goudy School.

The result is a dense jungle cacophony of color, shapes and design. The image represents yet another way to see Goudy School, as a thriving community that nurtures and enables its students to blossom and flourish.

But neither of these two murals would have been successful without adhering to the Six C’s .

Cooperation. As a diverse group of kids we needed to be able to work together, to cooperate, as a team.

Collaboration. The students needed not only to collaborate and to work as a group but also as individuals that treat one another with consideration.

Communication. It was essential that the students shared ideas with each other and listened respectfully.

Commitment. The murals would not have been successful if the students were not motivated or if they were not reliable.

Creativity. Without being able to use their imaginations, to problem solve and discover new ideas, the murals that we now see would be only a dream.

Cougars. First and foremost, we are Cougars, and represent the very best in ourselves, our school, and our community.

Goudy School is a very special school. 29 languages are spoken within its walls. Within my program alone there were students whose families came from Nigeria, Nepal, Pakistan, Vietnam, and China. The murals are beautiful pieces of art. But they also reaffirm in a most positive way just how rich and lucky the community is to enjoy such a range of boundless energy and creative diversity within its midst.