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You and What You've Been Doing

Updated: Mar 6, 2021

This week in ART YARD Art Matters with PS 282 in Brooklyn we were pleased to see returning students and some new comers. Prek-5th graders worked with Iranian born, Brooklyn-based Teaching Artist Golnar Adili on sessions called Mapping The Inside And Outside of Your Life. Trained architect and practicing artist, Golnar’s inspiration for our classes came from Persian Miniature painting, highly decorative traditional artworks from her homeland.

Golnar Adili in her studio, photo by Zainab Iqbal

In her PowerPoint presentation Golnar showed several Persian Miniatures, some cross-sections of fruit, photographs of her daughters doll house, her own samples and a really cool French children’s book called Barbapapa to help us envision the project.

Night Time in the Palace, historic Persian Miniature
Page detail from "Barbapapa" By Annette Tison and Talus Taylor (1970)

Students began by drawing the outside shape of their homes using a pencil and a ruler if they wanted. We called this our “envelope”. Then we drew in walls and floors. Many of us in New York live in big buildings which meant sketching lots of floors. Perhaps even doing a second close up piece to really show our own spaces. Then we added our details – furniture, books, toys, family members, pets, windows, doors, stairs and that sort of thing. Most of the students worked in color on this step.

Lucas, Inside Outside Home
Noelle, Inside Outside Home
Miles, Inside Outside Home
Pesha, Inside Outside Home
Emma, Inside Outside Home
Lola, Inside Outside Home

Golnar enthusiastically recounts: “Everyone explored the overall shape of their building, and some invented fantastical homes! We saw how one student cherished their books in the bookcase by detailing all of them stacked in different colors, while another drew meticulous stairs showing us how the rooms of the house were connected. In one very special drawing the closet door was flattened on the floor which made a magical portal into another space! When asked about that, they said it was an accident - which confirms my belief in accidents when it comes to art: they sometimes make the work better! This student drew everything else in bird's-eye view which was refreshing. I loved seeing a bunk bed in the bedroom of a student, and then seeing her in the artwork downstairs drawing as she was drawing! Some students showed a bit of the surrounding of their building, pink clouds and rolling hills which will take us right into the next class- mapping!”

June, Inside Outside Home

We shared the finished pieces holding our paintings up to the screen, describing our drawings and giving compliments. Pesha describes: “My bedroom has lots of books. My bed is purple and I'm wearing red pants. Mama and Papa are watching TV.” Alessandro created a diptych (a two part art work) of a rainbow transformer house on the left and his room with a plate of potatoes on the right. Noelle happily said that she “loved this class!” and is “Looking forward to next week!”

Critique Inside Outside Home

You may recall that last week we played a drawing game I Spy, in which students drew a mysterious object as I described it. Well, Kindergartener Ella loved that game so much that today as I described my cat Lola she took it upon herself to make a portrait of my adorable red-headed kitty. Spot on Ella!

Lola painted by Ella and Lola photographed by Meridith

You can see more of the work and listen to this portion of the recap on our YouTube station!


We are so excited to begin ART YARD Art Matters at PS 6 in Jersey City! Early in the week Dennis and Sarah met with PS 6's assistant principal and 3 classroom teachers to discuss our upcoming lesson plans and provide supply lists to students/parents. Our teaching artist is Richard Estrin who will be teaching 2 fifth grade classes and 1 fourth grade class for 3 consecutive Fridays in March. The school's theme of UNITY fits right into our theme of COMMUNITY!

PS 6 with a little snow!

ART YARD BKLYN was welcomed back to PS 6 in Jersey City via Google Meet. Teaching Artist Richard Estrin offered 4th and 5th grade students the opportunity to explain the similarities between UNITY (the school’s theme for this year) and COMMUNITY (ART YARD BKLYN’s theme for this year). Sharing slides of several murals depicting tributes to communities and drawings of Morandi showing the creation of unity of things other than those in living forms, students thought of ideas for their own drawings representing unity/community. Additionally, Richard demonstrated the processes of hatching, cross hatching, spirals, and stippling to achieve value (light and dark, or color) with the use of a pen.

Balmy Alley Project (San Francisco) Culture Contains the Seeds of Resistance which Blossoms into the Flower of Liberation
Giorgio Morandi, Natura morta a grandi segni.
Richard Estrin, Ballpoint Playground, Sample Drawing

Amidst a slight technological mishap while screen sharing, students were active in their participation and arrived at many original ideas (5th grader Jeremy drew a community of laptop computers and Ben drew a group of unified plants) for their pieces, as well as smart interpretations of the images shown by Richard. Dennis is the administrator for this collaboration and Sarah is the program assistant. I joined in as an observer and felt compelled to give a hearty compliment to the classroom teacher who gracefully provided classroom management and encouragement.

Students share work in progress

Vocabulary words were abundant and included triptych, hatching, checkerboard, tribute, vessels, relationships, value, spiral edge, discord, contrast, and mural.

Richard adds: “The idea of this series of three lessons Lesson is to explore a particular community with the recognition that community can be thought of as a group that shares a common attribute, characteristic. I hope that the classes will help to create a unity in our ART YARD at PS6 Community!”


This week in ART YARD Advanced Studio we worked with Teaching Artist Aisha Tandiwe Bell on a beautifully organized and well planned session creating Surrealist Mixed media-Collage Utilizing Self-portraiture.

Aisha Tandiwe Bell, screen shot from video interview

Aisha began by showing the work of artists Wangechi Mutu, Nancy Spiro, Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Elliot Hundley who all use collage as a medium.

Wangechi Mutu, “Riding Death In My Sleep”, 2002, ink and collage on paper
Njideka Akunyili Crosby, “Mother and Child”, 2016, Acrylic, transfer printing, colored pencil, cut and pasted paper, and printed fabric on paper

Aisha describes the process: “Students made watercolor backgrounds. Then two watercolor object drawings and a watercolor self- portrait. We then watched 3 short video interviews with Wangechi Mutu, Nancy Spiro, and Elliot Hundley as our watercolors dried. Students then collaged their drawings onto the background adding elements of found images or materials.” Adding, “I felt really good about today. The students were really receptive and focused and thoughtful.”

Aisha Tandiwe Bell, Self Portrait Surrealist Collage
Ed Rath, A Sure Thing
Vera Tineo, Surrealist Self Portrait Collage

Jane Huntington, Self Portrait Surrealist Collage

(Notice that Wayne, like the elementary school kids from PS 6 above, was inspired by the paintings of Morandi!)

Wayne Gross, Self Portrait Surrealist Collage

Karla shares some insight from her process in the session: “I have not worked in watercolor and now have even more appreciation for a medium I’ve long admired! I shared Wayne’s sense of a race with time and focus! My self-portrait became an abstraction of a dominant necessary feature (glasses). I selected my studio lamp as an object. Incorporated in the collage are: old watch crystal envelopes, packing material, deco lettering, my father’s ledger entries, book graphics, pen, pencil and masking tape. At the end of the Zoom, I was nearly trying to catch my breath as my brain kept on running! Thanks Aisha!!”

Karla Prickett, Self Portrait Surrealist Collage

Marilyn writes: “I was so exhilarated by today’s lesson! It was so much fun, and everyone’s work was spectacular. I watched a video of Aisha and her work. I love Aisha's style. Especially the head sculptures coming out of a flat surface. She is an amazing artist and an inspiring teacher. Have you been to the Palau de la Musica in Barcelona? The muses come out of the walls around the stage—Aisha’s work reminded me of it.

Detail of muses at Palau de la Musica in Barcelona
Marilyn August, Surrealist Self Portrait Collage
Sarah Gumgumji, Surrealist Self Portrait Collage
Meridith McNeal, Surrealist Self Portrait Collage



Teaching Artist Claudia Alvarez will present an ARTIST TALK ONLINE via Zoom March 10, 12:30-1:30pm (PST) for the The Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art series of virtual lectures with artists. All programs are free and open to the public.

Claudia Alvarez, Graphite and watercolor, 11x14 in.

Teaching Artist Iviva Olenick will present a virtual artist talk and natural dye demo on Saturday, April 17th in connection with the exhibition at Center for Book Arts which includes Iviva’s piece Borders are meant to be crossed, one in her series of cross-stitched and embroidered emergency blankets protesting anti-immigration policies and family separation.

All you New Yorkers are invited to join Iviva on Sunday, March 28 at Old Stone House from 10-12 to receive your grow kit with your choice of seeds (brown, green or white cotton; Japanese indigo; flax), soil and some planters!

Iviva Olenick, “Borders are meant to be crossed”

Congratulations to Maia Cruz Paleo on the opening of her upcoming solo show, The Answer is the Waves of the Sea, at Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago. The show will feature new paintings and will run from March 6 - April 10, 2021.

Maia Cruz Paleo, The Answer is the Waves of the Sea, 2020, oil on canvas, 84 x 72 in.

As I type this recap ART YARD Artist Dede Lovelace is in Chicago viewing Bisa Butler: Portraits at the Art Institute of Chicago (on view through September 6, 2021). Ardelia sent me several images from the show by text and I am just floored by the beauty of this work!

Photo by Dede Lovelace of artwork by Bisa Butler on view at at the Art Institute of Chicago
Photo by Dede Lovelace of artwork by Bisa Butler on view at at the Art Institute of Chicago

Dede texts: “This show is AMAZING! I’m shook lol she really outdid herself.”

From the AIC website: “Bisa Butler’s portrait quilts vividly capture personal and historical narratives of Black life. She strategically uses textiles—a traditionally marginalized medium—to interrogate the historical marginalization of her subjects while using scale and subtle detail to convey her subjects’ complex individuality. Together, Butler’s quilts present an expansive view of history through their engagement with themes such as family, community, migration, the promise of youth, and artistic and intellectual legacies. Bisa Butler: Portraits is the first solo museum exhibition of the artist’s work and will include over 20 portraits.”


So that's us, and what we've been doing!

P.S. Did you find the title of this recap as you were reading? Hint: It is part of an artwork.

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