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Maria's Reflections: November


Artists in Schools

Maria's Reflections: November

CMA Resident Artist Maria D. Rapicavoli on her November projects at Hudson Guild.

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This month was all about color and collage experiments. First, kids learned about achromatic colors by turning a colorful Paul Klee painting into an achromatic drawing.

Next, we moved to monochromatic colors, focusing on Picasso's Blue Period. I asked the students to create a self-portrait expressing their emotions, mainly sadness. A critical moment took place during this lesson. Two students walked into the class crying and very annoyed. They didn't want to work. When I introduced Picasso, I said he used blue to express his feelings. I then invited them to think of those moments when they were unfortunate and to try to release their sadness by transferring it into a monochromatic self-portrait. I mentioned that sometimes art could help us express our feelings, and because sorrow is so strong, it can generate intense paintings. It gave me joy to see that both students were somehow inspired by the lesson and made a lovely self-portrait, and at the end of the class, they were both happy.

We also learned how to create value with color combinations. Taking inspiration from paintings by Matisse, Klee, and Josef Albers, and street art by Phillip Saunders, students created paper collages with construction paper. I introduced them to abstract art and discussed the difference between hue, tint, and shade by blending tempera paint colors.

The last class of Foundations of Color was inspired by Sam Gilliam's colorful canvases – the children created a collaborative rainbow by coloring a long line of paper. This project was a big success because students loved working on a large-scale project and painting together to build a common project. They were very enthusiastic about Gilliam's work and life and loved freely moving around the tables and using colors. It was therapeutic and fun at the same time.

Our first two-dimensional design activity centered around frottage collage and the work of Max Ernst. Students experimented with the frottage technique, which consists of placing a sheet of paper on top of flat objects and rubbing it with a pencil or crayons to pick up the texture of the object beneath the paper. Students were also fascinated by Ernst's work and surrealism in general because they found it absurd and new. One student was inspired by Ernst's drawing, The Fugitive, and drew a fictional animal that was a mix of a wolf, a porcupine, and an eagle.

The last class of the month was all about Dadaist collage. The students created a collage by selecting and cutting images from newspapers and books. I showed them examples of Dadaist and surrealist collages and asked them to make a "nonsense" collage of images with unusual proportions and combinations. I was happily surprised to see how students responded to dadaism. They loved going through all the images that I provided to them. It was interesting to see their selection for their project; some were very rigorous, some very creative, and some lacked rules or schemes entirely!

We also worked on symmetry and made "squishy" paintings. Students were so enthusiastic that they wanted to do it repeatedly, so we used paper and colors. The element of mystery was a big part of the fun. We used strings to make it more challenging. Fourth and fifth graders were more capable of working with strings, while second and third graders found it frustrating. I wish I had only shown the strings technique only to the older ones, but that was a great moment of learning!

Maria's work at Hudson Guild is supported by the Emergency Arts Education Fund, which provides free arts education to NYC school communities whose art programs have been decimated by recent budget cuts.

Children’s Museum of the Arts’ three Residents Artists are currently implementing ambitious arts curriculum at each of our partner sites throughout New York City: Hudson Guild in Chelsea, Sid Miller Academy in Crown Heights, and Children’s Workshop School in the East Village. Come spring, our residents will showcase their students' work through exhibitions and installations across the city. Learn how you can support the work of our residents here.


Noormah Jamal at Children's Workshop School

Directional Coloring

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