Friday, March 1, 2013

Week Three: Constructionism and Making

This was my favorite week of the course so far.  I LOVE the Maker Movement and everything it stands for.  It was wonderful to hear ideas from the source from Dale Doherty, founder of MAKE magazine and from Leah Buechley whose Hi-Low Tech group explores fascinating ways to connect technology and traditional craft practices.
In his article, The Maker Mindset, Dale Doherty writes:
All together, makers are seeking an alternative to being regarded as consumers, rejecting the idea that you are defined by what you buy.  Instead, makers have a sense of what they can do and what they can learn to do.  Like artists, they are motivated by internal goals, not extrinsic rewards.  They are inspired by the work of others.  Most importantly, they do not wait until the future to create and make.  They feel an urgency to do something now - or lose the opportunity to do it at all.
This idea of making as an alternative to consuming is rich.  I see this all the time, particularly in 3D work in the studio.  Young artists make play sets, props for a school event, a new toy dog to replace a doll's lost companion, instruments, gifts, magazines, the list goes on.
The urgency of making and the excitement around ideas and making connections resonates with our studio practice as well.

Week Two: Interest Based Learning

The guests for week two were Joi and Mimi Ito discussing Interest Based Learning.  The idea behind interest based learning is to build more pathways to learning through engaging learner's interests; these can be interests in subjects and materials as well as social interests in making connections and building relationships.
The discussion focused on the importance of forming a connection with the materials you are working with - an idea that really resonates with our practice in the studio.  Art at the Center provides a space for young artists to come together to develop relationships with materials and with each other.  Working on themes of personal interest allows artists to interact, talk and learn from one another.
This clay play-set began as one artist's project and quickly grew as others at her table crafted additional pieces to add to the scene.  Above one artist works on a tree while another crafts pieces for a small kitchen, including a stove and microwave.

 Once the pieces are complete, the group works to craft an arrangement for display and sharing.

 Here we see some of the details of individual pieces created by several different young artists.

A bed surrounded by a beanbag chair and a shelf with a sun hat on top with a chair in the background.

 A baby grand piano.

There was also a great deal of emphasis on sharing and how this provides opportunities to connect to peers and to experiences in everyday life.  It gave me a new appreciation for our sharing time ritual at the end of classes and the way this allows us to celebrate, find inspiration and offer assistance, creating community around creative practice.
Sharing is key to celebrating interest based learning as well as to discovering new interests through interacting with peers in the studio.