Saturday, April 20, 2013

The finale.

by Bridget.

What a week. Having moved up here from Boston, it was both a challenge and a blessing to have a posse of art-campers to reckon with every morning. It was especially the case on Friday - I sat in my car glued to Facebook and text updates from friends in Watertown and Cambridge, putting the pieces together much faster than NPR, also on.  When the first students showed up for camp, I shut off my phone, shook it off, headed inside and switched gears. I started the day confessing my anxious mood and distraction during our opening circle, and asking that we mentally re-group for the best-last-day-possible. Boy did they deliver... after devolving into as close to mayhem as I've ever encountered in my ten years of teaching! But to say they made up for it is an understatement.
At the start of the week, Taylor had been drifting off from the group to play "the cup song" (You're Gonna Miss Me). Luna was drawn to this, and Taylor graciously taught her and practiced with her during free times. She even gave in to the request to perform it for the rest of the group. Around the same time, Melisa requested that we present artwork in a "show" at the end of the week. The Talent Show was born.

The high temps and general antsy energy of the group demanded we go outside.
I swapped out the acrylics we'd been working with for the most washable stuff we had - tempera - loaded up boxes of supplies, and cut two huge pieces of paper that fit two blank panels in the space we'd been all week. I set up some "aesthetic guidelines": work in groups, have a limited palette, include a border, a nature-inspired central focus, and consider a patterned background. The group added suggestions. Smocks on. If you didn't dress for painting, be careful not to sit ON the painting.

What I didn't account for was the insane gusts of wind that crashed our painting session only after the paints were out and the work was started. Waters spilled, painty papers flew and flopped towards those in their "nice clothes"... the groups wanted to work away from each other - huge mistake. My back was turned; the boys decided using their hands was the best work-around for paintbrush failure, and the Pollock approach was chosen for the piece.
 A bottle of paint fell to the ground and cracked open, making that color the must-have for both groups. I raised my voice for the first, second, third, and fourth times of the week as we tried to get inside without further damages.
"Well, Bridget, at least we really had fun! I mean, THAT was AWESOME!"
I explained that I'd take the heat for their disastrous appearances, and if they didn't take a little responsibility for breaking our Agreements, I'd lose my job.
"Don't worry - I make a complete mess all the time. My mom doesn't care."
In the remaining half hour, the team swung into action: hanging artwork, choosing roles, tightening up acts they'd come up with and practiced entirely on their own, cleaning up the room... how perfect to have a stage and a dozen chairs.. and a "spot light"!
Melisa and Maddie share the surviving part of the mural made earlier.
I was so moved by all of the supportive parents that managed to come early for the show. A first for me, after working with inner city families that could rarely make the year-end events.

I'm going to post video here from the show as I'm able. I again regret that I didn't get more of the ever-impressive "critique session"recorded, but I'm so glad parents got to see how brilliant their kids were.
I would be so thrilled to see these artists again this summer!

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