Wednesday, June 17, 2009

the hard part


Kids love it, and grownups love to give it to them to make stuff.

We're making 3D sculpture/puppets in camp, and entering what I call The Hard Part: frame-making. After withstanding roughly half a million dubious stares after telling the class to simplify their puppet's skeletons, I am pleased to say things paid off big when we got to said Hard Part.

3 times today I sat amidst a sea of smaller-than-mes, warning them that wire is awesome, but fairly frustrating and sharp. Ten minutes after the warning they were banging out asymmetrical circles with the best of them, light dancing in their mad-scientist eyes. I wanted to take those moments and throw them up like a smoke signal to the world. Shit is hard, then it is a cool hand puppet version of a trash can with felt garbage popping out of it. Or a talking cupcake. Or a sock puppet that isn't made out of a sock but looks like it's made out of a sock.

Pretty amped on kids right now. And pretty amped on skeletons.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

modern art camp makes me want to rock out.

I'm teaching at art camp this summer, starting Monday. This week I've been training, which has so far consisted of unpacking a lot of art supplies, asking people what their majors were/are, and giving myself what I think is a bonespur on the heel of my hand from CPR practice on hardbodied plastic models.

I have always loved and hated the beginnings of things, and camp is no different beast. I love that the people and kids who are strangers now won't be in two weeks' time, but hate having to wait for the time when the sea changes from awkward to awesome.

What is already awesome: the size of the art room. 80 kids a day will see the inside of this room, 20 at a shot. They’ll be making puppets, drawing themselves as Rococo vampires, and making oversize sculptures of tiny objects in it. They’ll make friends, get crushes, and learn to love or hate tempera paint. I’m still trying to come up with something really campy and tacky for them to make, a cabin flag of sorts for a city camp with nary a cabin or totem pole in sight. Maybe they’ll just claim The Bean for their own, with craft glue and glitter. We can popsicle-stick over Grant Park.

I love that all these boxes of something will one day be something really cool and full of glue. It’s such a cliché that teaching is inspiring, but really the entire profession and act IS. Your job is to either inform or remind people that it is possible to do such things, spin gold from straw and puppets from newsprint. All anything great takes is some wild enthusiasm, steady hands, and raw materials.

They don't call that shit construction paper for nothing.