I had the most wonderful day on April 19, when I was part of CELEBRATE THE ARTS at Shorecrest Preparatory School as a visiting artist-in-residence. Each spring, Shorecrest opens its campus for a week to give children a chance to work with professionals who have careers in painting, sculpture, opera, culinary arts, dance, writing, floral design and more. I am a mixed media artist. Celebrate the Arts is a spectacular way to introduce children to the arts. And it is so important for their development.
What a delight it was to expose middle schoolers to the excitement and unpredictability of mixed media collage! Their minds are open and creative and not riddled with fear. It was exciting to see them work.
I started out by telling them for one of the only times in their lives, in these collage sessions, there were no rules. (Their teachers winced and strongly pointed out that applied only when they were with me!)
I set out hundreds of images, alphabet letters, sea shells, stones and tissue paper on a long table. There was also glitter glue, markers and jewels. Then I told them to pick what they were attracted to and to not overthink. I emphasized it was about freedom and expressing themselves… things didn’t have to go with each other or even make sense.
I encouraged them to put images upside down or on their sides. If you want to experience fertile minds, hang out with middle schoolers! Some incredible pieces came out of those sessions, as you can see.
The kids were thrilled to be able to attach a human arm to a cow or to fashion a face with cut out eyes from different critters and a mouth made out of sea shells. One child used fish photographs to collage and jewels as the bubbles in the water. A portrait of a man with glitter glue purple hair was outstanding.
Here was the most rewarding thing for me as an artist. All I did was provide copious materials and the permission for them to “let go and go crazy.” I offered no suggestions, except for them to keep going and let their minds fly.
They loved it and so did I. I’m very grateful I have been invited for 3 years to be an artist in residence at Shorecrest. They foster the arts by exposing children to new, powerful experiences.