Friday, July 21, 2017

Super Hero of Nature!

Recently I taught a week long art class at the Pelham Art Center (PAC). The class was called Art Inspired By Nature and I used a bird's nest as a provocation for creating art. However, on the first day of class I was fortunate to stumble upon Artist Anki King's sculpture in PAC's courtyard. This piece would become another provocation for the students in my class. 

King works at PAC and took time out of her busy day to speak to the students in my class about her sculpture. She began by telling the children that it took her three days to collect enough materials to complete this piece. The materials were carefully selected from a wooded area on land her friend owns. The children wondered if it was hard to work with this particular material. King told us that when the sticks, vines and twigs were first brought to PAC they were still full of moisture, which made them pliable and easy to mold into the shapes she wanted. We asked King about her sculpting process. "Every piece found its way to the right spot," King said. She further explained that after sculpting for many years she intuitively knows where each piece needs to go. When we asked her what the piece means she explained that it represents man's relationship with nature and how we need to take care of the environment. She told the children "The sculpture is a Super Hero of nature!"

The children were quiet and listened to King intently. They seemed satisfied with her explanations. The children walked around the sculpture and in the space between the person and the cape. Then the children started to walk through the cape. Carefully the children lifted their legs over the vines or crouched down to go under the vines that make the cape. They not only spent time observing the sculpture, but they became a part of the sculpture too!

The children drew the sculpture twice using white drawing paper and a black sharpie (for contrast). On the following day the children used liquid watercolor to paint on their drawing. The results were fantastic! Each drawing and watercolor painting represented a unique point of view. In addition, the children's personalities were also captured in their drawing and painting style. 


Meandering Time
Coincidently, King also has a painting called Meandering Time on exhibit in the PAC's gallery. During a break the children went into the gallery to admire her work. We looked at the painting and discussed what we thought it meant. The children made a connection between the title (Meandering Time) and King's passion for nature. One child said, "The images in the painting look like clocks." Another child said, " If you don't take care of nature time will turn grey." When I asked the child," What does the color grey remind you of?" She responded, "Blah." I knew then that the children really thought about what King had told them the day before and it had resonated with them.