Time to Get Messy (i.e. Art Class)

Fiestas Patrias
Fiestas Patrias

IMG_1794

Siblings working together
Siblings working together

From the world of popsicle sticks, glue, paint, pencils, markers, scissors, and lots of messes, my LLI art students bring forth some incredible pieces. As the art teacher, I get to visit every zone at least once a week, hauling my huge bag up the cerros, trying not to wallop any fellow combi passengers as I disembark. During my time here, I decided to do a cohesive unit on art and self identity, and art as a form of self expression. The projects included family mobiles, name acrostic poems, papier mache heads, self portraits, and flags for the students’ imagined countries.Image

Although I am the teacher, I am certain that the students are teaching me much more than I manage to impart to them. I know that’s cliché, but it’s the truth. I love watching them work the scissors, tongues sticking out in concentration, putting a twist on a project that I hadn’t even thought of.

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     Every class has a slightly different flavor; some are rowdy and run rampant, some sit silently deep in concentration, and all continue to surprise and impress me with their work. My favorite project, and the messiest, most time-consuming, and hands-on, was papier mache. We made head shapes over balloons, waited a week for them to dry, and then painted them the following week. The idea was to do a kind of three dimensional self-portrait. Most students more or less followed this concept, while others created abstract representations, or something completely different (like a chancho, or pig). It was slightly exhausting running around like a crazy person trying to remember all the supplies—water for making paste, flour, glue, newspaper, extra water for cleaning, trashbags, rags for cleaning, and a large supply of patience. Without running water perhaps a project that left my students dripping with paste wasn’t the best idea, but they seemed to enjoy it. I certainly did!Image

ImagePapier Mache Recipe
Step 1:
Bite off more than you can chew
(Though everything still fits in you mouth,
it just might get messy)

Step 2:
Find a group of children
At least twelve will do to start
But
Be sure to warmly welcome any stragglers
(At least until you realize
there are only twenty minutes left)
It is very important
That these children have:
Energy, excitement, and exuberance
Exuding from their ears
Sticky fingers from snacking
Looks of bewilderment
Then dawning comprehension
And that they are fidgety enough
To prevent them from remaining seated
For more than thirty seconds
At a time

Step 3:
Mix, with reckless abandon,
Flour and water
Stir with fingers
Or both hands.
Be sure to wipe on pants.
Don’t forget the dust
That covers all surfaces.

Step 4:
Rip newspapers
Into precise shreds
(Of every size and shape)
Dip into flour paste
Do not remove excess goop or globules
Let them fly through the air
Splattering students
The table, chairs, dogs
Plaster the strip on your balloon
Leaving an arc on the floor
A Pollock masterpiece

Step 5:
Corral children and
Tie projects up to dry
A solar system
Of dripping ‘huevos de dinosaurios’
Spinning softly
Occassional plops onto the ground
You must not forget
To get several hearty drops
Squarely in the middle
Of your head

Step 6:
Breathe.
Admire their handywork.
Hug them goodbye.
Survey the chaos and beauty
Little hands have created.
Look down at your own–
You washed everyone’s hands,
Except yours.ImageImage

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