The overall objective for the residency at Mount Pleasant Elementary was to deepen our understanding and connection to place through collaboration and experimentation with new and local materials. Students explored and experimented with plant dyes, pigments, sketching, printing and weaving. Jaymie encouraged students to observe and connect with the site that they are on; the plants surrounding us, lost streams and old trees.
"I saw growth in terms of material practice, technical skills, a broadened sense of what art can include, as well as students becoming more open to a creative, messy, and unknown process as the year progressed." Jaymie
“When I thought of art, I thought of painting and drawing, but actually we did things like mapping and making dye. I am glad that I got to look at a different perspective of art.” student
The theme was working with our hands, exploring tools and materials to establish a baseline of maker skills that they would be able to use and enhance in future years. Students were introduced to the mechanics of using a hammer and a variety of environmental and hands-on art practices such as dying, sewing, carving, braiding and weaving.
“I saw improvements in skills and shifts into growth mindsets. I often heard things like ‘It was hard at first, but then it got easier; I got better at it.” Rebecca
“I like the weaving. I had to really concentrate.”Jenny
“I like the rhythm of weaving.”Emmanuel
“I like the touch of the leaves.”Nicole
“I like smelling the plants.” William
Sholeh worked with primary students to create a ‘paper studio’ where kindergarten, grade one and two students learned to use and appreciate the capacity of their hands as tools to rip, tear, fold, curl, twist and manipulate paper into a plurality of 2 and 3 dimensional forms. Students were awakened to the idea of material transformation and the infinite capacities of their attentive presence for thinking and acting differently.
"I love folding paper because it is so much fun" Student
"I like the birthday tree. When the wind blow it makes a lot of fun." Student
Amanda’s vision was to explore lines in three dimensions. Beginning with mindful drawing, mark-making and collage, students learned about different types of lines and the ways they communicate. In the second term, primary students worked with ephemeral light-based material “drawings”, traditional drawing and recycled material site specific installation. The intermediate students worked with three-dimensional mixed media structures.
"Students were very engaged in the ephemeral activities and challenges that allowed them to take risks in a safe way. Knowing that the work was non-permanent gave them leeway to try things, remove them and try them again. " Amanda
"I noticed that while participating in the activities my students were visually absorbed to the extent that the room disappeared from their awareness. It was an inspiration to see how fully and beautifully the students engaged with the materials." Teacher, Autism Program
The theme for the year, was “narrative” to celebrate the new library at Britannia.
Holly and Sam worked with the primary and younger intermediate classes to make their own books. In the studio, Sam and Holly created a space that focussed on material experimenting and allowing the students to freely develop their own narratives. We did not put emphasis on the idea of a final artwork, but instead focussed on introducing new materials and highlighting the process of making.
"In the art studio students felt safe, respected, and heard. They felt grounded, connected, and empowered to speak and share ideas. Being able to make choices, follow their creative and artistic instincts, study their exploits, and reflect on what was meaningful, made the art experience more personal and intense." Elizabeth, Britannia Teacher
Susan worked with the upper intermediate students to take time to see through a lens and discover beauty in the ordinary.
Rebecca and Susan embarked on a year long art inquiry around the Trees as Elders, exploring the interconnectedness of all life and locating ourselves as stewards within this complex ecosystem.
The younger students with Rebecca explored materials and nature through their many senses discovering growth patterns and textures through drawing, rubbing, printmaking and their imagination.
“The leaf rubbing is almost like an x-ray.” Student reflection
Older students with Susan explored the theme of Trees as Elders through photography, painting and installation work. We learned through literature, science and from indigenous elders from the community. We travelled to Stanley Park to photograph and give voice to the old growth trees on the land in Vancouver.
"I leaned photography requires for you to look at objects in all angles."
"I changed my thoughts to trees."
"In AIRS, I got better at taking my time to understand trees." Student reflections
"Together with students and teachers, we have planted many seeds- of wonder, curiosity, imagination, intention, perseverance, and collaboration to name only a few." Rebecca and Susan
At Seymour with artist Susan McCallum and guests Sho Sho and Jenoah Esquiro and Louise Profit LeBlanc, students learned story telling through painting, mask making and puppetry. Students engaged in depth with Indigenous stories of Northern Lights, bannock, and salmon. The stories naturally fostered visualizations and expressions where all students felt a sense of belonging – regardless of their cultural and social differences. By using their creativity, recycled materials and a hot glue gun, students engaged in a rich, process-based exploration concentrated on colours, materials, textures and details. The studio became a place of learning, exploration, risk-taking, and perseverance. The studio is a place of refuge that celebrates differences, imagination, and builds resilience.
“I discovered that art can look messy and still be beautiful and the only way to make it feel beautiful is if you feel something visually or mentally. My art may not look beautiful, but at least I put my best effort in it, which is the most important quality in art.” Grade 5 Student
Cole worked with the upper primary and intermediate students to create their own zines and class comic anthologies. The focus is on personal connections and kids creating stories from their own identity. Cole felt that “being able to realize that they have their own voice and can share it easily” was an important message.
“Sharing your story, your personal knowledge is sharing a piece of you. It is a gift.” - Cole
Rebecca worked through playful and sensory inquiry to explore nature both outside and within the studio. We explored the effects of shadows and light, noticing patterns and spinning stories. We value listening to each other, exchanging ideas, and imagining other perspectives.
“As we were noticing the natural world around us, we were also relating to one another as well as finding oneself within our unique shadows.” - Rebecca