I know I have been rather absent and haven't really posted anything about lessons, which is one of my primary goals for this little side project, in like months. I can't promise that I will go back through anything I did this past school year over the summer, but I'd like to say that I will try. While the school year wrapped up for kiddos back in mid June, I just finished an intense online course that started in May and started another course in person, this week. I'm truckin' through my grad school requirements! I really enjoyed the online course, albeit crazy amounts of reading and sometimes rather abstract, like how chaos theory could help explain creativity... yea, that happened. It was called Seminar in Creativity. I will try to explain later, this post is about The Sketchbook Project.
The space itself was pretty cool. Really high ceilings with fun chandeliers that had intricate crown moulding around the base on the ceiling. There was a fire place and huge windows with natural light pouring in despite the over cast day.
From where I live, Lynn is like traveling to a foreign country. Its only forty minutes away, but on the other side of Boston. The buildings are much closer together and the streets are narrow, even the main drag, and winding and occasionally one way. I went through numerous tunnels (thanks Big Dig!) and two rotaries or " round- a- bouts" for you non- New Englanders, just to get there. I'm very happy I had a GPS. And thankfully there was free on street parking. However there was next to nothing that looked open in the surrounding area. Of course, there was a Dunkin Donuts. As my boyfriend would say, "You can't swing a cat without hitting a Dunkin Donuts" around here. I don't advise swinging cats though.
|Thats me! With the co-founder of the Sketchbook Project, Steven Peterman.|
During a lull in the action, there were only a few people in the space along with a camera crew and the staff. I'm not sure what the crew was for, but I was asked if I wouldn't mind being taped while answering a few questions. Turns out Steve, who chatted with me, is co-founder of the project! Since none of my students came during the time I was at the show, I plan to write a little something up for the local paper and perhaps attach the photo.
I know its a huge project, with thousands of books from around the world, but I am very glad that I participated and was able to provide my students with the opportunity.
Would I do it again with kids? I don't know. There are things that I would need to change if I did, on my behalf. One of the things I've really had to learn as a new teacher is how to advocate for myself. And while I got the funding to do this project, that was it. I had no other support. Administration wanted this project to get our name out there, but no one set anything up to get it there. I think the long time frame of starting the books in October and the show not being in the area until July was an "out of sight, out of mind" type situation. No one asked me if they could set up some publicity for me and I did what I could during the art show and passed out "save the dates" to students, but the end of the year came and went. I know what I could do differently next year and I hope that if I decide to do this again, that my ideas are fully supported and I'm not just pushed forward on my own. I need support.
What I like about the Sketchbook Project, with my heightened sense of how creativity works thanks to my grad school work, is that it provides people with the opportunity to be creative. This is a chance for people to test the water so to speak. There is no right way or wrong way to fill out a sketchbook and thats the beauty of it!
I came across this "Encyclopedia of..." sketchbook and the ideas that came through the imagery resonated with me. This person's book became therapeutic. She had something she needed to work through, like my book from last year, and it probably felt awesome to get it out!
For kids in particular the Sketchbook Project is a way to find a process that works for the individual and be able to have confidence in the final product. By mailing it back, you get this sense of accomplishment. You have finality. Some people get stuck there in their creativity, they don't want to finish their work for fear of not knowing what happens next or fear of outside criticism. You will never have to know what others think about your Sketchbook and if you do, go to the show! Or post images online. In today's global society, if you really want feedback about your work, you can find it. Just be prepared for the good AND the bad.
For my students, I know how great they feel for having put so much time and energy into their books. Each one is so different! Through the process, they found materials they liked to work with, or not. They had days they didn't want to talk to anyone while working and days they couldn't stop laughing. I know that for them, just having the opportunity to come to the art room for a few hours each day, and to be welcomed and encouraged, boosted their self esteem in ways that I will never fully know. As cheesy as it is, thats the truth. Whatever process they find, whatever their favorite medium, doesn't matter. That confidence and positive relationship with themselves is the biggest thing I could ever hope to provide my students.