One teaching artist, one HUGE residency!

Karen Light and her students at Woodson Charter School have had a busy, rewarding year; starting last August and ending in June, Karen worked with approximately four hundred 6th through 8th graders in a visual arts residency that covered topics from color theory to anti-violence. Students learned to creatively express their thoughts on their personal lives and communities through numerous projects; so many, in fact, it’s hard to even know where to begin. So sit back, relax, and take a look at this recap of the year in photos (courtesy of Karen’s blog), highlighting some of their inspiring works of art!

Semester 1:

“Make lots of mistakes. Just don’t make the same ones.” – Osho

Karen kicked off her residency by having her students create circle paintings. This lesson involved teaching the symbolism of the circle as well as how to use lettering, tempera paint, oil pastels, and basic color theory. The students also learned about collaborating as a group – just look at this colorful example of teamwork!

Later in the semester, students got to express themselves through color AND language by writing “Where I’m From” poems (based on the George Ella Lyon poem of the same name). They then drew accompanying self-portraits, choosing colors to represent the emotions they wanted to portray.

And in the first X-Block class (taught outside of the normal curriculum) students examined graffiti art and created their own fonts. They also studied logos and invented their own emotional logos, with a symbol that expressed an emotion and a font to go with it.

Semester 2:

“Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood.” – Leo Rosten

In the second semester of the year, students got even more creative by making mixed media pieces to reflect on their own lives and make comments on the world around them. They also experimented with 3D illusions in art, creating pieces to look like hands popping off the page.

Later in the semester, in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting and increased neighborhood violence, students worked in small groups and looked at activist and revolution posters. They then came up with their own anti-violence messages and got together to discuss how they would combine their messages to make one anti-violence poster. They were completed with a mixed media approach, using acrylic paint, markers, colored pencils and tissue paper. Later in the year, they even got a chance to present one of these finished posters to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel!

And in their X-Block class, students learned about and created their own mandalas; the designs were even painted as a mural in the school’s cafeteria!

Semester 3:

“You are an artist. Make your life a work of art!”

Karen started off the last semester with a lesson on perspective drawing, during which they learned about vanishing points and how to create the illusion of distance through a flat drawing. They then created one-point perspective aerial drawings of buildings.

They learned about zentangles (drawings created with simple shapes repeated within other simple shapes) as well, which the 6th and 7th grade students drew with Sharpies and watercolor and the 8th graders drew on fabric.

And in the last X-Block class of the year, students explored the theme of bullying and the idea that every person has the choice of being a bully, a victim, or a warrior. Students chose symbols to represent their own inner warriors and drew them on pieces of muslin, which they painted, dyed and ironed to create their own “warrior shields”.

Whew! So there you have it folks, one inspiring, multi-faceted residency. Thanks to Karen Light, Woodson Charter School, and all others involved in making this residency a success! For more photos chronicling the year, be sure to check out Karen’s blog here.