Thursday, June 5, 2008

Southern Choctaw High

The great Jody White at Demopolis High has been graciously recommending me to everyone she encounters in the Alabama arts and education community. Now, thanks to her, there'll be no shortage of gigs for me in this most glorious state.

Ms. Betty McBride and Cecilia Bonner, Principal and Activities Coordinator, respectively, at Southern Choctaw High invited me down for a 3 week stay. Without any visual arts programs whatsoever, they were eager for something to happen before the end of the school year wherein at least a small percentage of the students will have had some exposure.
I usually don't choose projects and programs until I visit the school and talk to the teachers but in the case of Southern Choctaw High, the second I walked in the doors I knew what had to be done.
It's a clean school, a quiet school, and the kids are well-behaved. But the cinderblock walls were completely bare and barren. The place could use a little life...visually. Something that says this is a great place to learn.
It was a two-pronged thing:
I wanted to introduce the basics of drawing and visual thinking - "Learning to Draw is Learning to See" - including duplication exercises, negative space, mirroring, and contour drawing.
Then I wanted to coordinate specific themes with the classroom teachers based on their course of study.

Ms. Wigley's class was studying ancient Rome so we chose to reproduce a Roman mosaic.
Using the grid technique, each student was responsible for 3 or 4 random squares, drawing and painting them to scale. Created separately on heavy board, the squares were applied to the cinderblock upon completion. The outcome was somewhat unpredictable considering how each piece was created individually without too much consideration for perfect alignment. But this was intentional. I like the effect. It kinda shimmers.

The students enjoyed locating and pointing out their pieces.

Ms. Miller's class attempted an Egyptian tomb painting. In this case it's the female diety, Isis.

Coach Tew's class reproduced a Chinese tapestry - The Blue Dragon.

I wish we coulda done more. There's still a lot of blank wall.

Ms. Jackie Frost manages the school's maintenance. She and I talked just about everyday and I consider her a friend. But Jackie talks to everybody. She's just a classic Alabama Friendly-Down-To-Earth Person. Folks like Jackie keep me here.

She drove me down to check out her little church.

They're looking for an altarpiece - something visual to greet the congregation when they arrive on Sunday morning - and they asked me to create it.
This may be the best gig of my life.