Full STEAM Ahead!

Our most recent art show in the Delano Gallery was inspired by a Science and Art connection. You probably have heard of STEM fields: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. There has been a recent push to insert Art to create STEAM!

Science and Art share many things: research, observation, experimentation, discovery, and collaboration. We asked our artists to be inspired by our natural world, scientific discoveries, tech, engineering, or math to create a work of art. Art pushes beyond reason and allows our imagination to make new connections and discoveries- it was truly amazing to see what they came up with!

Students were also invited to create a collaborative artwork inspired by the invisible. Invisible without a microscope!  Microscopic inspiration included blood cells, amoebas, euglenas, pollen, viruses, mitosis, paramecia, and various bacteria types. Who knew a virus could be so beautiful?!

I really love the details in this satin skirt! Naomi related the design to the Eosinophil white blood cells they have been learning about in first grade. In her artist statement she noted that the human body is a fashion design all by itself!

The science room is right next to the gallery. Eric, best science teacher ever, treated gallery-goers to a microscopic show. It was very cool to see these tiny organisms on the big screen!

Nadya was recently hospitalized with appendicitis. She wrote in her artist statement that she heard her doctors talk about her white blood cell count a lot and that her favorite part of this art project was getting to eat the supplies:)
Benjamin is one of our sixth grade artists. Here is part of his thoughtful artist statement:
My inspiration for "Galacticube" was outer space. All sorts of amazing things are out there somewhere in our universe. All we can do is look at them. They are pieces of art created long before the rise of humanity. I tried to capture that and put it into my piece of art.

Check out the Thisiscolossal blog for more wonderful art and science interdisciplinary work! This is one of my favorite places on the internet to be inspired.


fifth grade photography poems

This looking at art activity comes from one of my art21 peers, Don Ball. Who, by the way, is pretty darn amazing. Here he is talking about his own art work:

What I love about this activity is that it's a collective observation process. The fifth graders (who are doing photography this year) each started with a photograph and wrote 5 words to describe the art. Then they moved on to the next one, wrote another 5 words, and so on, until the entire class contributed observations for each photograph. After each line was written, a piece of paper was moved down over it, so the lines above were hidden. Then the unveiling! Students came back to their original photograph and read all of the observations, chose one word from each line of the five words listed, and used these words to create a short poem. In this way, each poem is a collective observation! 

This was a great way to validate the observations of everyone and the "quiet conversation" process helped to deepen their observation and understanding of the art. 

Sharon Lockhart
by Alexis

The box, the carton with color
Dark background
You see Dole
I see hoarder
Made of plastic
Patriotic strutting its red
The peach sticker wanted to stick
Healthy lunch

After the poems were composed, students read their poems aloud in small groups also taking care to listen for the word they had contributed. Here they could make small changes, check for understanding, and discuss their observations. Once the small groups had finished, we moved to the presentation side of the room where I projected their photographs on the big screen as they got to read their poems to everyone. 

This process took the entire hour and not one student complained about not having time to make art. In fact, I had a few students tell me how much fun they were having and everyone was completely absorbed in the process! I definitely plan on using this process again in other grades with different art. 

William Wegman
by Ginger

The fortune called
the newly born dog
into the dark.
Evil starts grabbing.
Mom comes saving
in her cool color dress
being as meaningful
as a mother could

Andreas Gursky
by Marcus

sugar filled market,
99 cents, sale, money, ads, cheap!
candy, rolo, bright colors,
people, people, people
sugar filled market

Ansel Adams
by Oliver

high as the
dark mystical
rays play on the
color shining
the angelic

Bernd & Hilla Becher
by Max W.

The rusty worn down towers
Gridded and bare seek out water
Tall standing construction

Dorthea Lange
by Elise

A single mother
With no home
Hiding, dirt everywhere
She wants to work
Waiting for hope
She is filled with sadness
Scared her homeless family
Will die
Great depression

Lewis Hine
by Emma

Child labor is wrong
Forcing innocent children to work
Trying to earn money for shoes, clothes, and food
Curious kids forced into slavery
Feeling empty

Oliver Herring
by Reza

Splattered man
Project man
Motionless man
Background man
Movement man
Meaning man
Azouris man
Dirty man
Teal man
Chaos man


task party

Welcome to a new school year here at New City!

We recently started a sixth grade tradition on the first day of school- the TASK Party! I first experienced a TASK Party at the Art21 summer teacher institute where we got to meet the creator, Oliver Herring (who by the way couldn't be more thoughtful and kindhearted). 

What is a TASK Party? It's a collaborative creative playground that helps us understand ourselves and others as creative social beings. And it's lots of fun! 

The rules are simple: Take a task from the box, complete the task, write a new task for the box, repeat. Simple materials are available to use: newspaper, markers, tape, yarn, scissors, foil, etc. 

I start by introducing Oliver Herring as an artist who doesn't work with traditional materials like pencils or paint. He uses people to explore relationships and boundaries. We share this video after our TASK Party before the writing reflection:

I love the TASK Party for several reasons. It's a great way to explore process, limitations, perspective, empathy, trust, community, and creativity. 

Collect Time.

Make a flower.

Tear a piece of paper and tape it back together.

Make a city.

Make a birthday cake for someone and sing happy birthday.

Make a computer.

This was an example from my art21 task party!

You can see some of the tasks were performance based and others purely visual, they could be social or solo, some tasks were very detailed and others beautifully simple. I appreciate the open-ended aspect of the tasks. Each one is a brave adventure, completely open to interpretation and approach.

Here are a few hints to help make the TASK Party fun for everyone. As an introvert/observer, I notice it's important to have a large space with a quieter spot for those who need a little break from the high energy party. We also discuss the importance of putting in positive tasks to create a positive community and not to name anyone specific in their task. And, we always start our TASK Party with a box of ready-to-go tasks to get the party started. Tasks made by the kids beforehand are often more thoughtful while tasks made during the party may connect to or flow from other tasks with a wonderful spontaneity.

We've also connected their TASK Party to a writing reflection. Linda, 6th grade teacher and my art21 partner, wrote the following questions they answered in her class.

1. What are your general thoughts, observations, and reactions to the Task Party? List 5 words or phrases:
2. Did you see anyone perform/do any of your tasks? If so, what did you think? If not, which task of yours do you wish you'd seen completed?
3. Did you spend your time interpersonally or more intrapersonally while tasking?
4. What task do you take the most pride in having completed?
5. Is there a task that pushed you out of your comfort zone?
6. Would you call the Task Party art?
7. Closing thoughts/reflections:
8. Blank space to fill with whatever they wanted.

My favorite response I've read is for question #6 from Dylan.
Would you call the Task Party art?
I would call it an art, just like the technique of packing a suitcase is an art. It's the art of breaking boundaries. 
I think Oliver Herring would be tickled with that response!


artists making a difference

Dr. Arthur Culbert is the head of the Central West End Community Farm and one of the kindest people I have met! He partners with the New City School 4th graders to plant, tend, and harvest the garden for local food banks. This is a really wonderful partnership and we are lucky to have him in our community. Read more about his work here.

We were approached by Arthur to create a mural on the existing barriers blocking the garden from the alley. These were an eyesore and Arthur wanted to change their purpose to allow passers-by to see what this garden is all about. The fourth grade artists spent many hours designing, planning, consulting, and collaborating before the actual painting even started! The garden mural is now finished and is a happy centerpiece of the community farm. Many times, people have stopped to comment how seeing the mural on their way to work and home, brightens their day!


first grade spring cocoons

We have made insect mobiles before but I changed it up a little this year. This time the first grade artists added a real silk cocoon to the end of their mobiles! I bought the silk cocoons along with some silk squares from this etsy artist: WCMercantile.

The silk cocoons took the metallic watercolors beautifully. We used the cocoons with the tops cut open that make a little lid (sans worm)- perfect for inserting written wishes on little paper strips. We hope that when these wishes are ready to mature they will open up and come true. There were lots of good wishes for friends, family, and school and I saw more than one wish for the ability to fly!