Students in the Drawing 2 / Painting 2 class and also Digital Photography have been exploring themes that are relevant to them personally. The work that was produced has been beautiful, but it has been the process of Creating this work that has been truly inspiring. There is the technical problem solving that went on as students tried to learn how to hand make a book, including making the paper, binding the pages and then designing them with drawings and paintings.
The technical process though has only been part of the assignment. The thinking that students did is something difficult to capture through the rubric and yet this is where the real learning and development took place. Students have shared stories of many topics with me as they've worked. Connecting to what matters to them has been a vital part of this process. One student shared how he/she has battled with dyslexia and has found art a way to transcend his/her disability. Another shared how he/she some day hopes to find his/her birth mother again in the Ukraine. We discussed her concerns for what is happening there politically and how she hopes to return when he/she is older and search for his/her past. Another student has been very emotional as his/her family is selling the home he/she grew up in and moving across the country, adding to the already emotional prospect of being a senior in high school.
These are topics that weren't really in my lesson plan or on the rubric, but instead were chosen by the students. Giving students a voice in the process of developing their art work allows the curriculum to expand in ways not envisioned originally.
Lastly asking students to Present and Respond via the critique process revealed some profound thoughts on the part of students, both in written response to their peer's works and in reflecting upon their own art making process. The critical thinking involved in this evaluation is part of the creative process at the highest levels. I am so proud of the work these students have done and hope that their discoveries last a lifetime.
Here are some quotes from some of the student reflections.
"...The part I like most about my book is how much it means to me. My family is moving and I am clearing out my room and getting rid of a lot of meaningful things to me. But within this book I am able to hold onto some of those memories with all the extra pages I included as well I am able to continue to document my thoughts and memories."
"....My craftsmanship could have been better, because string hanging down from stitches coming out, but that is the beauty of handmade things."
" Your whole idea is awesome, how you were able to just relax and let this project lead where ever. The book itself feels a little fragile."
To see the book designs stop by the glass cases outside the PHS Art Offices (room 117). A sampling is on display there or check out the gallery of images here.