How do you process the pandemic with young kids? How do you make sense of this apocalyptic moment and still care for young people? How do you honor their bravery, tell the truth and still celebrate their powerful joy? I am learning more and more each day as my teaching practice returns to 3D!
We were back in person this year for The Hive, and we made some beautiful sculpture installations. Week One, Animals as Witness to Humans is pictured above. With my second graders I facilitated a huge interactive jungle/ waterfall/ forest/ ocean installation. Each ecosystem had a phone (dismantled,designed and decorated by a student) that spoke on behalf of the ecosystem in which it was located. We used a lot of found objects in our art making and we did some theater games. Here is the description from the camp's website:
Week 1 Theme We often wonder about the behaviors and inner worlds of animals. We think they’re cute, strange, comical, or fierce. . . but what do they think of us? Imagine looking through the eyes of an animal to observe the puzzling behaviors of humans at a dance party, traveling on an airplane, or playing a video game. What advice would they give us? What jokes would they tell about us? By looking to and learning from animals, we can see the world differently and create a more balanced world for all. For the student project some ideas could be to engineer a way for humans and animals to travel inspired by the migratory patterns of local wildlife. Compose an interspecies opera alongside grasshoppers and sparrows. Construct a park where squirrels can play and collect without distraction or danger. As we learn from critters and creatures, how will human behavior and activities be shaped?
For the next session, Week Two, we worked more with textiles, connecting to the Museum's current exhibition Monumental Cloth: The Flag You Should Know by Sonya Clark. We experimented with natural dyes which sadly did not go as well as planned, however we were able to paint over some of the tinted fabric we created and it was still beautiful. We hung those from trees and smooshed some dirt and sticks onto them, imagining they were flags of all the countries that never were, that got taken over or colonized. It was amazing to discuss this theme with young people. The installation looked a lot like the work of Vivian Suter . Here is more about the flag and monument theme we used as an impetus for creating during that session (also from DeCordova website):
Week 2 Theme: We use monuments to preserve an important moment or idea forever in time, staying still in a world that is ever-changing. If ideas change over time, why can’t our monuments change with them? How can you use monuments to broadcast your values? What if our monument grew wings, spoke a new language, or changed and moved like clouds in the sky? Let’s see what happens when we dare to create teeny-tiny or larger-than-life monuments that are interactive and alive. Let’s reimagine monuments to both remember our past and look to our future. Hivers will play with scale and construct sculptures activated by humans, the landscape, and natural elements. They will invite visitors to explore these living monuments, creating spaces to amplify and celebrate our unique values and voices.
We also made some banners using more found objects- player piano rolls that Anna found in her grandmother's basement! For these the students created mini worlds of utopia using clay. The banners hung above the mini worlds, telling a new message about how we wish the world could be. We'd had a discussion about monuments to “unimportant” things or untold stories. Who decided to make monuments to the typical things we find monuments to, here in Boston? If someone or something else made that decision about monuments could the monument be for something different ?! Something besides a war or battleground? How could we make a monument to something small but very influential? Like your toothbrush or a house key? An invisible monument? Below you can see our Player Piano Roll banners.
For my last session, Week Three, we created a giant treasure map covering the entire front lawn! We asked, can anything be a treasure? We used flags to create a pathway through the grounds, along the way were some secret clues and hints, one was an exhibition of treasures we had found in nature- sticks, shells, bug exoskeletons, leaves and flowers. We had arranged them on cyanotype paper.
From Decordova: Maps and stories are interwoven. They help orient us, direct us, show us where we have been, and point us to where we are going. What would your life story look like mapped out on a page or projected onto a landscape? How do we chart a hero’s journey or a rite of passage? How do our relationships with the art and landscape around us help us find our way home? Go on an expedition throughout deCordova’s grounds! Act as cartographers and guides, telling your stories and recording your epic voyages using movement, sculpture, and storytelling. View the museum in a whole new light while enjoying your personalized adventure!
In order to make the flag path/ interactive treasure map we went up to the top of the museum and looked down on the grounds from the roof. We mapped out where we wanted people to walk.
We plotted and planned how we would lead families over to our hidden treasure. The map lead through all the other Hives's projects as well! It was a lot of fun. What was our treasure you ask? Well it was something that was not a thing at all! It was some QR codes hung on a tree, the visitors could scan the link and connect to videos of us dancing. It was a beautiful way to transition fully out of Zoom teaching, now that Massachusetts is opening back up.