What I learned in class this week…

Imagine yourself walking into class, as usual having little to no idea of what surprise activity the teacher has in store. The tables are clear, except for a single large sheet of brown paper on each. Some of your classmates are already sitting at the tables with their bags and other art stuffs, so you don’t notice the large bag under the table full of recycling junk. You all settle in and the class begins.

The teacher tells you to look under the table, pull out the bag, and look in it. Now, as a group, write all the things the bag-items remind you of. You see, each bag has a grouping of junk in it. Some have pieces of cardboard, or egg cartons, or plastic caps, etc…

Without realizing it, we started to all write similar things, but only a few key ideas surface for the whole group. The teacher tells us to walk around the table, observing each other’s words, and to draw lines between the similar ones. For us, we all saw eyes and glasses.

Now the teacher instructs us that we have about an hour to create a collective artwork (by table, not for the whole class). Again without realizing it, we all dive in and just start collaborating. Unspoken, some of us go get white glue, glue guns, other strings and odds and ends to decorate our work. The time flies by and we are done before the end. None of us leave the table, instead we start discussing other classes and how their teachers approach activities. Finally, we all start taking pictures of our piece and inspire each other to look at it from different perspectives, which reveals all sorts of different interpretations of what it reminds us of.

The teacher brings us all back to attention and we start a class-wide discussion, each table presenting their piece and getting questions and feedback from the class. More interpretations are revealed. All this from a bag of familiar junk.

The object of this activity was to understand that familiar objects can be a really strong launching point for creativity. It was also about letting go, having fun, and trusting in the process with your classmates, over any concern for traditional definitions of art.

Here are a few the other tables in our class did… Can you spot the familiar objects?


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