Tuesday, April 6, 2010

the "S" word



Tonight, I'd like to talk about a different "piece"of my work.

(Look it's only been 5 days and already, he's doing fill in pieces!)

Nooo... when I decided to do this, I laid out an entire week's worth of subjects and pictures, so I could just grab one each day and go at it. But as a very wise artist once said to me, "Your sculpture is a conversation between you and the material". I take that to mean sometimes you have to let a thing tell you what it wants to be and help it get there. And after the last few days, I feel strangely happy and full of wonder at the way things work out.

So let me tell you about the kids.

After I got done with my regular trip to the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar in Austin (where I met the above mentioned artist, Mr. Tom Farr), I jetted home for a week to teach the kids of Edmonds Elementary to do what I do. I brought in clay, they brought in... Stuff , and we went to work.

13 classes in 3 days, an hour in each, anywhere from 5 to 35 kids in each one, 320 kids in all, not including the teachers and volunteer parents who deserved to have a little fun for putting up with my "Teaching by the seat of my pants" technique . And every kid learned enough to do at least two pieces from start to finish. It was all "here's your clay, look, you can make a face" and "What? You don't like it? That's cool. Squish it! Make a different one. Go!"


They just rocked. Each one with a vision. Some wanted scary, some wanted pretty. Some didn't know what they wanted or where to start. The only rule was "Work with what you've got". They couldn't take somebody else's bit of stuff and they couldn't have another one of whatever that cool thing that other kid was using was. So they learned to improvise. No expectations (other than get something done!) They all found something that was uniquely theirs.

I'll always remember the moment in one of the 6th grade classes. A kid asked if he could do "Squidward" from SpongeBob Squarepants. And I said ... no! Not to squelch anybody's creativity... but to turn it on. You give a kid a fixed model to shoot for and every original idea he or she come up with will be somehow... wrong. So no Squidward, no cartoon characters, nothing that anyone of them could get sued for, I said. I told them we'd save questions of copyright and intellectual property for my next visit.

I told them, "From now on we will no longer say the name of the amusing multilegged cartoon character. From now on, we shall refer to him as 'THE 'S' WORD'!.

Of course, it got a big laugh. It paid off even bigger at the end of the class. As I collected the work to take it home and fire it, a girl showed me this piece . "Mr. D, look at mine! Wanna know what it's called?"

"It's The 'S' Word!"

Art. Creation... seeing...listening..incorporating...
Being present in the moment and taking your shot.
Amazing what you can learn when you think you're teaching, isn't it?

all pieces created by the amazing kids of Edmonds Elementary.
Thanks, Artmoms!






2 comments:

  1. Thank you, Greg! *The "S" Word* was submitted in the ORCAStrated Art Show and received a blue ribbon - it will be hung in the Edmonds Art Show this June. ;-)

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  2. Wow. That's cool. So... who you got judging that this year?

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