Today my 12 & 13-year-old Saturday art class students explored the concept of collecting. The assignment was risky from the teacher-point of view because it required a lot of trust on my part and responsibility on their part to complete the process.
After thinking and discussing what can be collected, how many objects make up a collection, and how a collection can be organized and described, students grouped into teams of 2-4 students to explore the whole Fleisher building and collect small objects, preferably focusing on one zone or room. I let them loose with baskets for a half hour with instructions to be respectful of other people in the building as they collected and to reconvene in the gallery. After their scavenging, we headed up to the digital lab to use the scanners and computers. They were told to plan a composition using some or all of their objects, with each student getting a chance to arrange their own composition, sharing the group's collected objects. I walked them through the steps of creating a file and scanning and saving their images, then they worked together, sharing the 4 computers that had scanners hooked up. Here are some of the results showing what areas of the building they concentrated on. Above, the items were all collected in and around the front entrance lobby and desk. These 2 images above and below share objects found in the abundant still-life prop-room. I think these have interesting light effects due to the very 3-dimensional objects used. Nature was a common theme, either artificial as in the prop-room collections, or real. Several students explored the garden or the front of the building and collected some of the surrounding flora for their compositions.
There also seemed to be great interest in money. Probably a great concern to these young teens who have consumer desires but not the funds to buy what they wish, and something they need to become savvy and responsible with. These 2 images are mostly a result of what the students found in their own belongings. I like how the one above combines the drawing and the personal collection of pencils used to make it. And below, the bills were interleaved into a tree branch. "Money doesn't grow on trees!"
I'm very excited about the experience today! I'm pleased that my students seemed engaged and excited about the process. They were trusted and lived up to the trust. They truly cooperated within their teams and I enjoyed hearing them talk things out. One of the challenges with this group is breaking down their young adolescent self-consciousness, and giving them opportunities for some independence and choice is valuable.
Now I need to print out their images, and next week we'll mount a "Fleisher Museum" exhibit in the hallway with some written descriptions.