Sunday, December 15, 2013

Program: Meet the Artist

This fall, I decided to introduce a new monthly program, one I'd been thinking about for some time. It's called Meet the Artist. Each month, I pick a new artist for us to study and then we create our own works of art in their style. What's perhaps most amusing to me about this program is that I consider myself a terrible artist. I cannot even draw a decent stick figure (I'm seriously not joking). However, I really liked the idea of this program, and thought it would be fine to try different artistic styles each month. Maybe I'd even change my opinion of myself as an artist!

We kicked off in September with Alexander Calder. Confession: I chose Calder because I was butting up against the deadline for publishing our program information and I thought he'd be a pretty easy artist around which to create a project. Also, Calder is fun (and I just read The Calder Game over the summer, so he might have been on my mind anyway). Here's what we did!

I started with a brief PowerPoint presentation to introduce our artist. Well, first, I asked the kids in attendance if any of them had heard of Calder and was pleased to see that many had. Then, I started my presentation. I limited it to two slides with biographical information about him and then a number of slides with examples of his artwork. The kids were astounded to learn that Calder actually invented mobiles! They had a lot of excellent questions about how mobiles were art and how Calder got them to move. It was a really great start to the program.

After we finished the slides, we got to the heart of the program: creating our own mobiles. I had pre-cut lengths of wire for the kids to use to create their mobiles. I provided them with foam to cut into shapes they wanted, and even used a resource from The Calder Game with some examples of the shapes most often used by Calder. Additionally, I had made a mobile of my own before the program; I wanted them to see in person how it would work (in fact, it's still hanging up in our program room at the library, mostly because it was a pain to get up there). They were all very complimentary of my mobile and got really excited about making their own. For the remainder of the program, I walked around and helped as needed, mostly with shaping and bending the wire and attaching their mobile pieces to their wires. All of the kids were very focused on their designs and I think everyone was really happy with their finished project. This program was a success and it'll be interesting to see how it continues to progress.

That being said, there were a few things I would do differently. While I had pre-cut the wires for each child to use, I didn't pre-shape loops in them (the loops were where we hung our objects from). If I did this again, I would definitely do that ahead of time, as the kids had a really hard time with this aspect of the program. I also probably could have used an extra set of hands in there to help guide them along. Overall, though, I think it went well.

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