Updated: Sep 25
This week in ART YARD Advanced Studio on Zoom Teaching Artist Jane Huntington began the lesson with a brief discussion on William Kentridge’s life and work, followed by showing videos of his animations and his process.
Jane explains: “Kentridge's work combines his personal experience with a political statement about post-Apartheid South Africa. His painterly animations have a profound emotional impact – one of implied guilt and tremendous sorrow. Wayne, a huge fan, provided some historical context–Kentridge's father was a well-regarded progressive lawyer who represented Nelson Mandela. In a breakout room, Madison exclaimed "Wow – that was intense! That blew me away!"
I followed these videos by showing storyboards from famous movies – Batman, West Side Story, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, among others. We discussed the concept of "Mise en Scene" and seeing each storyboard cell as a shot in a movie. The assignment was to create a storyboard of your life during the covid era. What was your experience? How did you cope?”
Wayne drew images of architecture from a recent travels.
Madison did a beautiful piece drawing in graphite using filming conventions – establishing shots, close-ups, etc.
Ed drew a wry piece called "A Day in the Life of Ed Rath".
Pat did a sequence using pen and water-color illustrating the irony of putting on lipstick before putting on her mask.
Delphine's sequence started with not being able to get a vaccine–then illustrating life during covid and the pain of missing out, followed by the last frame of her still not qualifying for the vaccine to this day. (Image to follow.)
Meridith's piece – done in a limited pallet of black ink, blue and golden hues – reflecting vignettes re-capping recent experiences.
Robin did her version of "Rear Window during covid" – watching two brothers, unable to leave their home, play basketball day after day.
Sarah's piece illustrated her harriedness balancing school and life.
Jane further explains: “ I had wanted to do something that was pre-planned. But life did not work out that way–being swamped with other work right up to lesson time, I had to come up with something quick. So my piece was about my nightly walks in my father's retirement community. I drew the streets and what I observed–three birds (they always walked together), rabbits, a fallen tree fond, finally entering the expanse of a golf course at night. Apparently, reflective journeys can happen anywhere.”
Jane Huntington, Storyboard, 2021, pencil on paper
This week at Advanced Studio in-person, we took advantage of meeting at FiveMyles, where we were surrounded by the gorgeous paintings in the show The Way We See It. Teaching Artist Rachael Wren introduced the idea of making work “after” another artist. This concept differs from making a copy of someone else’s work or a master copy in that one uses another artist’s composition or theme, but adds one’s own twist to it. For inspiration, Rachael showed two pairings of masterpieces and works created after them: Las Meninas by Velazquez from 1656 with The Maids of Honor (Las Meninas, after Velazquez) by Picasso from 1957:
And The Sower by Millet from 1850 with The Sower (after Millet), by Van Gogh from 1889. The class looked at these images and discussed which elements from the original work the second artist kept, and what they changed and made their own.
Rachael further illuminates: “Then, each student chose a piece in the show at Five Myles to make a new watercolor painting after. The results were outstanding and showed a true understanding of how to combine elements of someone else’s work with one’s own ideas.
Sarah worked from one of Meridith’s paintings, turning the original bright lights into a swarm of glowing, hovering bees.
Ed chose to work from Kevin’s piece, saying he was attracted to its strong composition and mysteriousness. He incorporated his own style into the swirls in the water and turned the stairs in the middle of the original image into a figure, creating a new sense of mystery.
Marilyn, who was visiting from California (and finally got to meet some of her zoom classmates in person!) was drawn to Sarah’s piece as a source for her work. She used the idea of a looking at a tree through a window, but changed the type of tree and latticework to evoke a completely different sense of place.
Vera focused on the bench in one of Meridith’s paintings, reinventing it with a beautiful, sensitive use of color and brushstroke.
Nayarit translated another piece of Meridith’s into a lyrical line drawing, and transformed some of the objects. She reimagined the tail of the bird in the original piece as a flowing wedding dress.
Robin worked from Akash’s painting, putting herself into the new scene, stuck halfway in and halfway out the window, as a metaphor for how she felt during the pandemic lockdown.
At critique, everyone said they learned a lot from looking deeply at another artist’s work and gained a new appreciation of the nuances in all the work in the show.
Following Brooklyn New School's protocol, ART YARD Art Matters at BNS met with 10 students (4th and 5th graders) for afterschool class outdoors. Perfect - because our lesson plan involved finding objects from nature. Teaching Artist Fatima Traore asked students to search the school's grounds for leaves, twigs, flat rocks and sticks, flowers, and anything that would give a nice texture to their projects.
While searching, Fatima reminded them to keep the composition of their piece in mind, as well as texture - which led several students to collect sand. With spray adhesive, students applied their objects (and some bakery string, NOT found in nature! - provided by ART YARD BKLYN) to a large square of chipboard. The pieces are lovely, as is, but will become part of a more advanced piece in a future lesson. While some students' placements of their objects was methodical and even geometrical (which is great!), others used compositions showing the growth of an element from nature OR their native arrangements.
During critique, students expressed finding peace in spreading the sand or simply flattening leaves onto the boards. A great group - every single student received a compliment from another.