Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Keith Haring Inspired Reduction Prints

I think this has been the favorite assignment of the school year, for both the students and I. Out of about 90 students, only 5 or 6 really didn't like idea of making multiple prints. A large majority of the students had successful outcomes, and from my point of view, they were exposed to some recent Art History AND a new process. - I have tried to approach Art One as a survey course with a focus on observation and communication through various processes.

At the end of April, I was out on a field trip, so I left this video and drawing prompt with my substitute. This was a great lead up to the Reduction Print assignment the following week. In fact, a few students expanded on the idea they started during this class.

Next, I introduced Keith Haring with an "interactive" powerpoint. It was interactive in a sense that students were able to hear Haring's voice, talking about working in the subway. And, after discussing how line was used to create symbols, students were given a slide of nine of Haring's pictographs, and wrote what they thought each could represent.

We also talked about how Haring used his art to bring awareness to the AIDS epidemic as well as anti-drug campaigns, which were big topics of the time. I then provided students with a short biography and place to sketch ideas. The biography proved to be super helpful for those students who missed the background information class.
  1. Sketch
  2. Create two copies on 6x9 newsprint
  3. On one copy, use color pencils to separate the image into three sections/ colors.
  4. Use the second copy to transfer the image onto styrofoam.

At this point I showed another power point explaining the steps of printmaking. As I used the power point, I also did a demo, so students could see and hear what was going on in "real time."
  • Create 6 prints, using different ink and color papers, of your line drawing.

After the next class or so, I showed a few more slides, and talked to groups of tables and individuals, to explain the reduction process. Students either cut pieces of the foam out, or used tools (a mechanical pencil without lead worked the best) to push the foam down.

  • Ink and register foam over the previous prints.

Sorry images are sideways.
  • Reduce and print a second time.

Preparation and conversation were key to this lesson.
Beforehand, I did the project myself. The images from the demo are from when I tried it out. I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing, and anticipate any pitfalls. I also cut paper to size ahead of time. To save the desks from massive messes, I cut craft paper to about the same size as the table surface and we continued to reuse them. (I have even saves the pages for future collages!)

The other lifesaver was this drying rack.
I showed students how to load it from the bottom and when a rack was full, pull down the next. Each morning, I collected the dry prints and placed them in a shoe box designated for each class.

Through this reduction process (and daily collection of work) I was able to talk to students about their process and decisions in a way that I have never been able to before. I try to wrap up most assignments with self evaluations and reflections, and through those I was able to see that what we discussed (and what they have learned this year (especially about color and contrast)) was synthesized and used.

I am so proud of what my students have accomplished here. Check out some of their results.

Why do you see 4 of the same?
Students were asked to pass in 4 of their 6 prints. Students were then evaluated on studio performance (effort, including clean up), creativity, craftsmanship, color choices, line/ symbol in it's clarity of communication, and composition.

 This one cracks me up. It's spot on to what he aimed to do... combine the "Bernie Dance" from Weekend at Bernie's (where do they see these things?) and Obey.

Others took the opportunity to make statements about our society in the spirit of Keith Haring.
So cool.
Send me a message if you would like any of the power points or any other information.
Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

CVPA Celebration

At the beginning of the month, I was invited to attend the first ever College of Visual and Performing Arts Celebration, hosted by UMD's Alumni Association. I always like an excuse to visit campus and relive the wonderful memories of my four years there. The day included a lecture on the history of the Swain School of Design, a gallery exhibit curated by current Art History students accompanied the lecture, tours of campus and a reception at the New Bedford campus to celebrate the MFA Thesis Show.

This is the room where it all began for me. I am pretty sure the first ever college class I attended was Structure Drawing. I remember the professor was short in stature, but intimidating as heck, and had us listen to Dido while drawing. Somehow this weird combination inspired such a love, that I continued with drawing courses well beyond the requirements, even taking six hour long classes on Fridays!

What I mostly enjoyed about the day and the trip down memory lane though, was the history lecture. In fact, I think that all incoming CVPA students should hear it and appreciate the foundations that were built for us.

The Swain Free School of New Bedford, Massachusetts, was established in 1881 through the provisions of the will of New Bedford philanthropist William W. Swain. The following year it began offering courses in languages, literature, history, education, art, and chemistry free of charge to area residents who could not otherwise afford an education beyond public school. They were required to put down a deposit of $10 per semester, as a measure of good faith. As the textile industry became increasingly important to the area, the school concentrated on instruction in textile design.
In 1902 the trustees redefined its mission as a School of Design, with the purpose of providing a "more complete and thorough course of instruction in the fundamental principles of design than had ever been given in this city and to provide also instruction in the practical application of these principles in all branches of decorative art."

In 1988 the Swain School of Design merged with Southeastern Massachusetts University's College of Visual and Performing Arts and is now part of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouthfrom the archives

This excerpt hardly scratches the surface of what the Swain School was. Swain wanted to provide an education to girls at a time when that was unheard of. He wanted to give back to the community and help to provide a future of the children. Some of these students went on to study at Yale and other prestigious Universities, including at least two men who returned to Swain to teach. 

Swain established a wonderful sense of community for the students, even giving back and being a part of the greater community of New Bedford. When the school merged with SMU in the 80s, I can only image the uneasiness and even anger that some of the students and faculty must have felt. There was probably a state of panic that this community may vanish being consumed by a state university. However, the faculty at SMU and Swain worked together and, in my humble opinion, established an amazing program. 

I attended UMD fourteen years after the merge.
I had no idea what the Swain School was or stood for when I was on campus, just that it existed and somehow had some part in what we became. 
But from day one, I felt that sense of community. 
I was able to grow and develop as an artist, and educator, amongst a group of people who were totally supportive and dedicated to their students. There is something about being surrounded by other like minded people that is energizing and comforting. The art world can be very competitive and cut throat and I never once felt that at UMD. We supported each other in our endeavors
I learned at the Celebration through the lecture that that climate as established years and years before I attended college. And I greatly appreciate it because I know what it has helped me become the person I am today.  

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Change of Pace

I feel like I've been a little absent lately from blogging. The world of high school moves at a different pace. And I feel as though this little blog may be changing focus from totally art education, to moments in the life of a high school art teacher. I enjoy being able to share my thoughts here and as of late they seem to be more about my art making and life in general, than lesson plans and student works.

That being said, I am gearing up for the end of the school year and another two week painting class on Nantucket! I plan share, and am really excited to share, one of my most successful lessons of the school year, in the next week or so. And then I hope to write about my journey into more abstract painting and my summer travels which include Nantucket, Florida, and the Western Caribbean.