A few years ago, Sandra Goodenough, a parent in my daughter's third grade class invited parents to a small art presentation. Here, she presented a hardbound book to the school librarian, documenting the adventures our children had creating an unusual form of art.
She called the art journey From the Mountains to the Sea, Neighborhood Nature.
I was intrigued.
"The mist hung from the mountains. From the Brandon campus to the foothills,
we aimed to record the landscape as we saw it, layer upon layer."
Inspired by the environmentalist artist, Andy Goldworthy (see his website here), the children used whatever time they could to investigate elements of their local environment through mixed-media art practices.
"Creating each piece of work has been a group collaboration. The aim of this project was to experience the process of investigating together, visual decision making, accepting new ideas and contributing observations, while often, using very unusual art materials. Many of the pieces were made for the moment, and never meant for keeps, so we took lots of photographs on our creative journey."
Isn't that perfect? As I sat and listened to Sandra in her gentle English accent, I realized that my mind, as well as the children's, had been pried opened a bit more.
Sandra took the parents through the journey as she had with the children, explaining that art is simply a process and that many times, it just happens, as was the case with the charcoal landscape drawing. She told us how the wind swirled the charcoal dust around the paper creating areas of interest and how the heavy mist on that particular day fell on the art, recording the raindrops into the paper.
I was mesmerized.
I had never really looked at art this way. Not in this truly organic state.
I told Sandra afterwards that I thought I might be missing the "point" with my teaching and that more of my art lessons should be organic like hers had been. But again, I was missing the point.
Art comes in many forms. And that's why I wanted to share with you some of Sandra's pictures and words. She truly is an inspiration!
"It takes the greatest skill and lots of care to create a design that is strong and
simple. Environmental art often looks for simplicity.
We called this day 'Roots, Shoots and Leaves.'"
"Leaves, sticks, charcoal, chalk, blueberry, olive oil, graphite, grass, pencils, flour and water, light, dark, paint, paper, wood, flower heads, computers and a camera, these were our tools and materials."