More on my latest collaboration

The pièce de résistance of “Force for Good” ready to be attached.

For the last several months I’ve been working with ten teen artists (and their friends) to create an installation that speaks out against racism in conjunction with the Culture for Change program of Boston. The group and I are finally ready to present our nearly 24′ piece to the public tomorrow evening. What follows is our artists statement. For more on the process, please check out the YES for Change Tumblr page.

A Force For Good (Against Racism)

papier-mâché (head), clear tape & saran wrap (spine), wooden frames (body), sequined fabric (skin), mirrors, and other medium.

Being given the opportunity to create some sort of artwork that educates the cause and effect of racism is both exciting and a little daunting. The subject of racism is very broad, as were our choices of art to use to translate our message. Following the process of an artist, starting with an idea, continuing with research, practicing with trial and error team building projects, and finally execution, we arrived at what stands before you.

During the course of the year we researched a variety of issues and events related to racism and in particular our community of Chinatown. We also sought out to learn more about the broad medium of installation art, knowing we did not want to necessarily produce standard 2D artwork. We learned about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, one of the most significant restrictions on free immigration in the US. Our investigation of racism and installation art brought us all over Boston and beyond. Our group visited the Chinatown Library where we viewed an Atlas timeline of Chinatown. It was a way for us to learn and find our roots and to see how it was like for our grandparents and great grandparents to deal with the obstacles presented to them in a new country. We visited the ICA to view installation art and hopefully inspire us. We learned about Ai Wei Wei and how he used installation art to oppose the Chinese communist government. Another famous installation artist, Yayoi Kasuma, taught us that much of installation art is conceptual, meaning that the artist’s ideas or concept are more important that the actual beauty of the piece.

Our team combined ideas collected from months worth of projects and field trips and drafted a final form for our installation. What we present to the community is a Chinese inspired dragon, its spine built of interlocking lit hands, surrounding a plastic figure and several mirrors. The mirrors reflect our audiences’ faces and positive phrases allowing viewers to become a part of the piece. The encircled separated plastic figure amid the sea of reflections is used to show the effects of racism, something, at one point, everyone has encountered, making us feel isolated or less than a whole. The dragon represents our main message, coming together we become an unstoppable force against racism. We are equally proud of our final piece and of all the work our team has done. This installation is our reward to show everyone what we’ve learned about art, racism, our culture, and each other.

Spring classes open to the public!

I’m excited to announce a list of late afternoon classes I’ll be teaching in the Spring at the New Art Center of Newton, MA, just ten minutes outside of Boston! Teaching at the center gives me a little more creative freedom than I have in public school and I’ve begun to happily plan out the term starting in April.

Cartooning and Comics, Gr. 2-4

This class is designed to introduce students to the basic techniques of drawing humans, objects, and animals cartoon-style. Students will learn to give realistic expression to their drawings of original characters and caricatured celebrities. Studying anatomy, proportion, movement, etc will allow students to become more confident and creative cartoon designers. Class discussion will focus on the work of classic cartoonists to better understand and appreciate the art form of cartooning.

Graphic Novels and Manga, Gr. 5-8

Explore the genre of the graphic novel with comic books and manga. Delve into the history of the medium and its influences on animation, anime, music, and film. Students will create their own graphic novel and focus on story structure and pencil and ink art. Students are required to bring a sketchbook to class.

Drawing and Painting, Gr. 9-12

This class is designed for beginners and advanced students who are serious about drawing and painting. Different techniques and a wide range of materials will be used to explore and help redefine students’ art class experience.

Drawing and Coloring Media, Gr. 6-10

Working from still-life, photographs, magazines, and independent ideas students will be introduced to specific drawing fundamentals and techniques.  Various mediums will be used such as, graphite, ink, charcoal, chalk pastel, oil pastel, graphic markers, and conté crayons. Personal style is celebrated and encouraged!

2D/3D Mixed Media Art, Gr. 8-12

This class will offer students the opportunity to make art using different materials and various media. Painting, collage making, blogging, directing, building — anything goes for the serious artist who has something to say. Students will be inspired by modern and contemporary art as they interact with the New Art Center’s current exhibition in the main gallery. A great class in particular to use the creative process to express oneself by thinking outside of the box!

Counselors-In-Training Through the Visual Arts, Gr. 7-10

Would you like to become a young leader in the art world? If you’re interested in visual art, photography, music, dance, theater, and/or organizing events — this is the perfect ‘class’ for you! Led by K-12 art teacher and Teen Program Coordinator, Steven Wilber, participants will learn important leadership skills and tools to organize art-related activities, develop budgets, and plan programs like field trips, community art projects, teen night outs, art exhibits, and more.

A history of abstract art

Abstract Art is always a fun subject for students and it’s a great tool for imaginative exploration of creativity. I was excited when a friend shared this article with me. I have to take time for a trip to New York City to see this exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts. Anyway, it’s the perfect excuse for a worthwhile experience.

Inventing Abstraction, 1910-1925 – The New Yorker