Pre-K and K from PS 63 learning Sergei Prokofiev’s Love for Three Oranges.
The Studio in action! (far left) A two week project: The opening page of our Love for Three Oranges book. First (far right) inspired by the work of Vic Muniz, kids construct oranges ripping tiny shapes from magazines. The second week: a finished composition – using all the space. (center)
For the scene in which the Prince steals the three oranges from the frightening Cook, the children first created complex mixed-media backgrounds and then – using a simple armature, sculpted and painted foil ladles to represent the reprehensible one. Much conversation in our lesson about What is a Ladle and Why does it end with the infamous Silent E?
The earlier part of the year included gallery visits to see the work of Richard Serra and Damien Hirst at Gagosian, Roberto Matta at Pace, and Nick Cave at Mary Boone.
Raptly capturing Cave’s Soundsuits at Mary Boone in Chelsea.
At Gagosian with Damien Hirst’s Dot Paintings.
Kids were very inspired by the enormous Matta retrospective (left) and the remarkable steel constructions of Richard Serra (center and right)
In-studio the children studied Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro.
The basic premise of Figaro – one of illicit seduction – needs to be presented to children on a certain level that emphasizes the musical/humorous aspect of the opera, but that also makes them aware of the issue at hand. The idea, as we explain it, that the Count wants to meet Susanna in the garden and give her a kiss, is not, in the children’s own estimation, acceptable. We like to open the discussion …
… about what’s okay and what’s not okay, and operas like Figaro – or Le Comte Ory, which we studied last year – give us an opportunity – in a non-threatening context to have children evaluate gender roles and responsibilities. In response (above) we had the children create beautiful safe houses in which Susanna could live safely. At-risk kids, whose housing situations are often very compromised, love this project. It makes them feel that they can take control of an important aspect of their own lives.
Here the children are responding to Figaro’s Se Vuol Ballare and an introduction that we presented on Picasso’s Guitars. The children had unlimited freedom in deciding how they would handle the guitar question – representationally, abstractly, 2D, 3D. They often opted, like Picasso, for large shapes, and using yarn that they wove or glued into their work, they created instruments of remarkable distinction.
Figaro gives us so many opportunities to delve into the 18th century operatic trope. The cross-dressing that occupies a great part of the opera’s plot is worked through here – with great joy – as the girls dressed the boys in scarves. Done along with the video, the boys followed Susanna’s instructions to kneel down, etc.
Illustrating the sad countess in Porgi, Amor, when the Countess learns that her husband is professing to love her maid.
A tremendous highlight of the Winter Gallery Hops was Vladimir Roitfeld’s popup gallery in a huge warehouse in Soho that temporarily housed enormous works by Outtara Watts. Vladimir kindly arranged for the space to be opened for our children alone, making it possible for children who live in some of the smallest, unforgiving spaces in the city, to find themselves completely at home and welcomed in what seemed like one of the largest!
The children immediately connected with Outtara’s work and spent an hour and a half drawing non-stop.
Some of the children measured the paintings using tools at hand.
The later part of the year featured gallery and museum visits to see Kehinde Wylie at the Jewish Museum, Ernesto Neto at Tanya Bonakdar, the Cindy Sherman at MoMA, Maurizio Cattelan and John Chamberlain at the Guggenheim.
Seeing Cindy Sherman at MOMA.
After the Kehinde Wiley show, children accompanied Jewish Museum educators and Time In’s fabulous teachers back to their studio to create papercuttings in the style of Wylie’s paintings.
Like the Outtara Watts show, Ernesto Neto’s nets were an immediate WOW for the kids. It also gave them an opportunity to test out how well they had mastered their impulse control in galleries. With so many kids and so many nets, the ability to understand what you can touch and what you can’t touch, how you can have fun but not be too noisy can be very complicated for 5 year olds. Bravi to all of our kids for their success in handling themselves beautifully.
“Sadko is an under-the-sea opera…” The children dance to the overture, emulating the waves of the ocean.
Creating backgrounds using paint, pastels, and hands we flesh out what goes into making a compelling composition: background, foreground, midground.
Sadko tries to convince the merchants of Novgorod to help him outfit 30 ships and fill them with merchandise so that he can go out and extol the beauties of his native town. Know any 5 year olds who know what “merchandise” is? A fantastic discussion on what merchandise one might sell in order to make money – today and at the time of Sadko, as well!
For the river scene, teaching artist Maggie Siegel-Berele taught the children some simple drawing techniques for creating swans, which were then cut out and inserted into backgrounds that had been prepared earlier.
The post-artmaking scene. A giant mess and massively happy children.
In May, we introduced Making Sound, a musique concrète curriculum which we hope to debut, pending funding, next year. The curriculum devised by the multi-awarded composer, Matthew Greenbaum, would have our students work with leading contemporary performers in more directed musical settings. Our debut artist was the internationally renowned violinist and composer, Mari Kimura, who has been reviewed in the New York Times as “chilling… gripping… charming… a virtuoso playing at the edge.” Mari worked with the children using an interactive “glove” to generate light projections from the sounds of the violin. The children engaged in a variety of interactions, first listening and watching, then dancing and improvising, and finally free drawing improvisations while Mari played.
Mari with a drawing of her made by one of the children. (left) Listening and Watching. (right)
Improvising to the music. (left) Mari’s violin.(right)
Drawings of Mari and her sound waves.
The school year’s fieldtrips ended with Keith Haring at the Brooklyn Museum.
Keith Haring spoke to our kids and they were mesmerized. There was more drawing than ever before, and more masterful drawing. A whole year – and for some kids, two years – of being immersed in studio work, dozens of galleries and museums, gave them the possibility to truly capture what they saw.
With fantastic focus, incredible enthusiasm and boundless joy they gratefully soaked in every minute at the Brooklyn Museum’s galleries.