Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Thinking Outside The Box wins Best Fine Art Movie in California Student Media Festival!

I was very excited to learn today that Thinking Outside the Box is a winner in the 44th Annual California Student Media Festival. It won the Elementary School Fine Arts category. There is only one winner in each category for the entire state of California. It is now eligible for the Grand Prize which is $1,000. 00; money which would be well used at Cureton Elementary in Alum Rock, San Jose.

You can see the movie here at SchoolTube. I am very proud of all the Fourth and Fifth Grade students at Cureton Elementary School who created this animation with me last spring and am very grateful to Ms. Arlene U. Illa for opening up her 4/5 combo classroom to so many sessions of my workshop animation project. It takes a great leap of faith for a teacher to gift his/her teaching time to an arts instructor and I take that gift of time seriously and try to put my best effort into creating useful curriculum in the time I have with the students.

More on the concept behind this animation on this posting and this one.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Reflections on local history in sashiko

Above: study for sashiko textile reflecting on San Jose history and culture
Sashiko stitching has fascinated me since I was a child. I saw it on old plantation work clothes hanging in relatives closest, on patched quilts and on purses and on Christmas ornaments. I knew that the origins of this now decorative stitch was in practicality;  its function stemmed from the need to repair and reinforce cotton and hemp work clothes.

I suspect that the Japanese agricultural workers in Santa Clara also used sashiko stitching in their work clothes. It will be interesting to research this. A few years back I learned that the current San Jose airport was once a cauliflower field. Japanese Americans were the primary laborers.

In 1940 a bond passed to fund the airport construction. In 1942 Executive Order 9066 let to the removal of Japanese Americans from Santa Clara County. After Internment, many San Jose Japanese Americans returned to Japantown. Today, San Jose's Japantown  is the only California Japantown which returned to its exact prewar location.

In the digital sketch at the top of this posting, the bounding line between the blue and while background represents the this time of transition in 1940 and 1942. The circular shapes on the loop tracking back to the cauliflower represents the Japanese returning to  San Jose to create a Japantown on its original location. I would like to create a sashiko piece reflecting this history. I took images of young cauliflower as reference for this a few years back and have been stewing on this project. Recreating in sashiko stitching the fractal like patterns of the plant would reflect on culture, the past agricultural economy and the technology industries which replaced it.

More of these thoughts are at my textile blog:

Arts Splash! Montalvo Arts Center

Yesterday I participated in a student art festival at the Montalvo Arts Center. I had a drop in recycled art workshop station for children of all ages. Using recycled water bottle bottoms, cardboard, tea bag tags, food wrappers, produce netting, wire and an assortment of other recycled materials, people created nature related art pieces.

Above: project sample bookmark. Media: recycled cardboard, tea bag tag, Japanese comics and plastic sushi grass. A "L" shaped slit is made in the cardboard and the tea bag tag's string slips into it.
Above: Bookmarks created by children in the workshop. I had a wallpaper sample books that the visitors used. You can see elements of these wallpaper papers in the right hand bookmark.
Below: visitor create diatoms (water born algae with silica skeletons). I had sample images for each table of what these water born algae look like so that the children could draw inspiration from the elaborate silica skeletons of these creatures. I explained to them how such algae can bloom in abundance when our local creeks are clog with plastics.

 Above and below: A child's creation with wire and produce netting. She patiently sat working on this creature for quite a while.We had one table station set up to be for wire work. I had many mini pliers set out and the children looked at pictures of locally endangered creatures as well as drew from their own imagination for inspiration.
Above: A child artist created this car made of water bottle bottoms. I like the green person made of produce netting!
Above: A student sketches ants as he designs the construction of his wire creature.
Above: The student displays his final creation.
Below: using a template, visitors created flowers from wallpaper sample books and leaves from recycled sushi grass.

Below: Foam packing sculptures created by Rainbow Art in Cupertino


Above: a sculpture created by Ann Weber. Her amazing works are of cardboard. Yesterday she had a workshop in which children could get creative with staplers and an unlimited supply of cardboard. A small warrior tests out his new armor and sword below.

Above: The few remaining scraps of cardboard remaining at the end of the day at Ann Weber's station. Children were still cobbling together wonderful creations up to the last moment.
My son and my daughter enjoyed the afternoon at Arts Splash with their dad as I worked. My son was on a speaking panel of student artists who discussed their creative process. He had a movie in the festival. It was very inspiring to see the beautiful student art, some of which was quiet large. Next year I hope to see some of the performance pieces for the festival. I enjoyed seeing proud students in matching T-shirts from their schools and arts organizations roam around.