Monday, October 28, 2013

Inspired by Banksy

Bansky is one of my all time favorite artists. He is currently doing a residency in New York City for the month of October called Better Out Than In. Each day he posts where he has left a piece of his street art or installation and people flock to check it out before it is defaced by other street artists or plain old jerks. You can see what he has been up to each day this month at Here is his work from today:
I am currently launching a unit of study on his month's body work at school with my seventh graders. I'm curious to see what the youth of New Canaan can decipher from his political activism and sarcastic social commentary. 

Last year, I dug up a few old reproduction paintings by Van Gogh that the former art teacher at my school used for visual reference. Since they were covered in mold and seriously faded, I decided to put a 'Banksy' twist on them. Although he is primarily known as a street artist, I was inspired by work he did a few years ago where he snuck into museums and galleries and hung his own work next to priceless masterpieces. These first four examples are by Banksy:

I up-cycled these three dusty Van Gogh canvases and hope to dig up more soon. I want to acknowledge these are directly pulled from Banksy works I was inspired by. I give Banksy full credit for the concepts.  I just hoped to show my students first hand how to make statements within their art that is more global and far reaching than their soccer fields and cheer leading squads. These are hanging in my art room:
Van Gogh & Beatman, inspired by Banksy
Van Gogh & Beatman, inspired by Bansky
Van Gogh & Beatman, inspired by Bansky

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Middle School Nightmare

Yes, that's me, my brace & Michael.
A recurring dream I have is waking up and being told my scoliosis wasn't corrected and I would have to keep wearing my back brace until further notice. Here is the back brace I had to wear for 3 years. the one on the left is the closest one to mine:

 My curvature was an "S" curve which literally looked like the letter "S" in the x-rays. It was a few degrees away from having major surgery where they inserted 2 steel rods on either side of your spine, cranked them until they straightened your vertebrae. You were then placed in a body cast for 6 months. 

I suppose my parents were relieved when they heard I would NOT need this surgery. I, on the other hand, secretly wished I was a candidate. It sure beat the alternative: wearing the "Milwaukee Brace" to correct the curves. I was sentenced to wear it 23 hours a day, 7 days a week for all of 7th & 8th grade. As I entered 9th grade, my first year at high school, my sentenced was reduced to 12 hours a day, which meant I did not have to wear it to school. To add to this nightmare, my orthodontist insisted I wear my headgear during the day since sleeping with it was impossible. You could not image the scene as I walked in that first day. I looked a bit like this girl and just as pissed:
I have tried to explain my experience to people and made jokes about how embarrassed I was, and how people asked if I had been hit by a truck. In combination with my severe acne and braces on my teeth, I was a real hot mess. I only recently realized how much wearing this brace changed how it shaped me (literally) into who I am now. Wearing the brace during the most formative, fragile, emotional, pubescent, social years was a real doozey. It very much changed my perception of boys and how boys would view me. Every insecurity a teen goes through in middle school was magnified for me as I bought up every turtle neck I could find at JCPenny. It was about as cute portrayed in Hollywood:
I can relate most to this photo. This entire scene just about sums it up. 
Oh yes, many everyday functions were a struggle on display for all your school mates to enjoy.
Lisa Kudrow some how made it look cool. I lacked her confidence completely.
A quote from Romy and Michele's High School Reunion:
"You know, even though I had to wear that stupid back brace and you were kind of fat, 
we were still totally cutting edge.
Being the scrapbooker I am, I tried to find some photos for proof of me actually wearing the thing. I could not find one- until I dug though some boxes at my mom's house. I was obviously sensitive to having my picture taken in it- I knew I looked like Frankenstein and wanted no evidence left behind. Luckily, here are a few shots of those days:

Through this experience, my mother was an angel. She was my support power-house. Her pain I can only understand now that I am mother. She would pull me out of school to make the hour drive to Albany to see spinal specialists. Standing in front of numerous male doctors in just my underwear and this brace, they sketched on my skin with markers, made adjustments, called other doctors in for collaborative discussions, it was torture for me, but more so for her. After my appointments, she took me to the fanciest restaurant we could find and treat me to a lunch I doubted we could afford. We bonded in a very special way during those lunches, as she held back tears and tried to talk about anything else. She would have done anything to take away the fact I had to wear it- she would have worn it herself for me if she could. I totally get that now. I just wanted to share with you a bit of my past. I find writing some of my experiences on this blog now before I forget will someday give my kids a better sense of who I am. Wearing my brace was such a big part of my teen years. Looking back, I can see so many teachable moments surrounding it to share with them. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Do You Save the Hand Turkeys?

I am in conflict: 
1. I am an art teacher. I completely treasure any and all artistic creations made by my children. 
2. I am a hard core minimalist. I toss anything I believe to be possible clutter-material. 

So, my fellow parents, art appreciators, and clutter busters...what are we to do with all the hand turkeys? I have been gathering artwork from both of my kids since they were able to hold a crayon. I will admit, I toss about 80% of it and scoop off the "good stuff", the milestone pieces. Milestone pieces are when my kids make a new discovery in their art. Here's a short list of things I do save:

-representations of people, family, animals
-paintings where they mix new colors
-their first cut paper collage
-interesting compositions, or art that they have created an elaborate story to go along with (I will write story or titles on the back of the piece)

My ultimate goal is to have these works printed in hardcover photo books, through Shutterfly- as many as it takes from now until college.

Here's my process:
1. I save the actual work in 2 separate large portfolios, one for each child.
2 . Each piece is states name and date.
3. I snap a digital photo of the work & upload to iPhoto, color correct, & crop if necessary.
4. I upload to Shutterfly, load into books with captions, dates, titles.
5. I also include pics of the kids actually doing the art when I can.
6. I order the books and hope some day they will be appreciated.
7. I pray no one asks for the original work- because I...and here I am a bit hesitant...I toss it.

The bulging portfolios.
Petra's artwork in iPhoto
Well, I haven't tossed any of it yet, because remember, I am in conflict about it. Do I save these giant portfolios full of work that have the high chance of becoming moldy in my basement? I have yet to decide. I'm sure I'll save a few gems, but the rest are destined for the recycling bin. For the tech savvy, I found these two awesome Apps for kid's artwork to save, organize, share, and even order photo books through.

Free. Looks amazing, clean and simple, but for now is only available for apple products. An Android App is in the works. You can also follow friends and what work they have loaded, so that can be kind of cool for the kids. Too bad for now they do not offer a photo book option, but rather cute mugs, water bottles, mouse pads, etc. Books will come soon they say.
Watch this sweet little demo:

Free. Another great looking App for kid's artwork. Works with Apple products and most Androids. You can immediately share on Facebook, Pinterest & other sharing sites. Best feature, I think, is the photo book option. 
Check out this video:

Both Apps are really nicely designed. It looks like they take a bit of time to set up and get going. I'm tempted to try them, but I cannot stray from my ongoing process just yet. It's working just fine and is streamlined with the rest of my other photos in Shutterfly, so it's one stop uploading and shopping. Let me know what you do to preserve you kid's artwork. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

My MJ Obsession

Ok. Confession time. In 6th grade I became deeply obsessed with Michael Jackson. It was 1983. I was also obsessed with any and every piece of music he and produced. Thank God for MTV, music videos gave me access to him 24/7. I rehearsed all of his choreographed moves until I knew each sequence- Thriller was my favorite. I was determined to collect any image I could find of him. I would purchase, cut and glue together collages for my bedroom walls. I bought up every People Magazine, Tiger Beat, Teen Beat, and newspaper that had his image. Posters, calendars, trading cards and even bubble gum had his image on it at the time. He was so incredibly talented and I am sad his life ended with so many crappy things surrounding it. Simply sad for so many people.

Here are a handful of my collages that literally wallpapered my bedroom walls:
 I can't believe after 30 years these are in such good shape: 
 After I hit 8th grade, and MJ's tours were coming to a close, I slowly transformed my room back into a normal teenager's. Regular trips to Pier 1 with my babysitting money made me feel like the grown-up, world traveler I longed to be. I carefully wrapped up and stored the wallpaper collection in my attic. 

Fast forward 20 years and MJ was back in the news accused of varied crimes at his Neverland ranch. I honestly can't state my opinion one way or another about his innocence. Well, I guess I can say this: I do know that when you throw millions of dollars into a trial, people say and do crazy things. No matter what, I would believe my children if they claimed anything had happened to them while they were away from me- bottom line. The parents involved in those cases make me wonder...Rich, poor, famous or some ordinary guy down the street- if some man asked my 8 year old over for a sleep over, my answer would be no. Even if he was MJ. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Beckett's Blog

Beckett came home from school in a panic Friday. He was like a technology addict begging for any random connection to the "real world" through any means possible. He needed his fix. He asked for an iPhone and even threatened to ask Santa for one if I didn't comply. He asked for his own email address so he can email his friends....what? I can't even imagine worrying about what 3rd graders would email each other?

He then remembered last fall I added a blog for him on my account. He started off by adding one photo with a simple heading. Knowing he had this creative outlet to "connect" to his friends through the Internet satisfied him for now. He is happy to have the ability to email his friends the blog's link for them to check out and see what he is up to- although he has yet to produce a friend's email address since I am sure no one in the 3rd grade has one...right?!

In case you are curious, here is a screenshot of his home page:

I love that he has somewhere to collect ideas, photos, and scrapbook. A boy after my own heart. XO