Tag Archive for art

Independent Study: Art in Spain, Peru and Mexico

Three students recently completed an impressive independent study in painting and Spanish language study. Pursuing independent study requires initiative, perseverance, collaboration, and responsibility, and that’s just to get started! Students further develop these habits in the course of their study. The group designed a course overview, researched painters from Spain, Peru, and Mexico, identified common themes in their work, and produced a series of paintings in the styles they studied.

For their final project, the students created an interactive mural in the style of David Alfaro Siquieros, integrated the theme of community at UPrep into the piece, and displayed it in the main hallway for people to experience.

Students often see the connections between the subjects that they study but rarely have more than a passing opportunity to conduct deep inquiry in an interdisciplinary format. As part of our ULab initiative, we are removing barriers to interdisciplinary collaboration, launching more interdisciplinary courses within the school curriculum, and making the process to propose an independent study clearer and more accessible to students.

Art + Math + Community

This painting is now hanging on our Upper School math building, a gift from the senior class and one student artist in particular. Look closely for formulas that define each shape and rulers on some of the stems. Click on the image to view a larger version.

I love this work, for many reasons.

It exemplifies ingenuity, initiative, effort, and attention to detail, qualities that we extol in our graduates.

It makes a vibrant aesthetic statement in an otherwise genial but subdued courtyard space.

It celebrates interdisciplinary learning, math, and art.

One student designed the painting, but many helped to complete it.

It supports efforts to build community around shared values.

Annihilating Space?

Friday, a number of us attended a talk by Dr. Ellen Handler Spitz titled “Reflections On Space and Childhood.” Dr. Spitz presented a thorough investigation of how children use and explore space through play. She emphasized the importance of understanding and preserving child-centered spaces, even if they appear messy and disorganized to adults!

Dr. Spitz made only a passing, less than complimentary, reference to technology, but it resonated with me. She said that technology was “annihilating space.” This powerful turn of phrase suggests to me that individuals equipped with technology may overcome obstacles of distance and the limitations of some physical media. It also suggests that sitting at a computer workstation disconnects an individual from one’s immediate surroundings or at least renders them unimportant.

This characterization of technology contributes to a myth that is particularly difficult to dislodge in educational circles. Virtual technology spaces are not the opposite of the material world. This oversimplification is both inaccurate and does a disservice to serious consideration of the useful roles of technology in all disciplines, including art.

Painting and drawing are rarely considered virtual in nature, but the images produced with paint, graphite, and canvas are hardly concrete. They create a representation of an image that transcends the raw materials and taps into people’s imaginations. Though easier to manipulate, the activation of light-producing LCD pixels through computer commands is not the opposite of drawing but rather just another form of the creative process.

Music stands as another powerful example. Musicians have successfully blurred the boundaries between analog and digital instruments. Sounds waves of music create a mental representation much in the way that light waves create an image in the mind.

Dr. Spitz’s most compelling examples concerned the distribution of physical, play materials in a house or the painting of images on a wall. If children act as artists through play, they can certainly find rich playgrounds using technology.

Rather than destroying space, technology creates cyberspaces that children and adults alike may explore. Adopting a multifaceted view of technology is essential to furthering our understanding of the role of technology in the arts.