Visualizing Peace

Each year Barnesville students participate in a week long event called “Peace Week.” Traditionally, this week occurs just before Martin Luther King Day. Between January 9th and 13th, students from Pre-K to 8th grade participated in several workshops that focused on the question: What does peace look like?

School wide, students read the story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, and embarked on their own journey to fold one thousand cranes in five days. We succeeded, plus some!

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We were also visited by a yoga instructor, who led the school in connecting to the idea of inner peace through a practice of mindfulness.

In Middle School, we were visited by the Baltimore based sound artist Andrew Keiper, who talked about how “deep listening” can be a powerful tool towards social change.

On the last day of Peace Week, the whole school had a peaceful march towards the gymnasium, where we shared songs about peace and presentations on key figures from the Civil Rights Movement. We closed the ceremony with a candle lighting, once again connecting back to the ways in which peace is visualized, communicated, and cultivated by the wonderful teachers, staff, and students of Barnesville School.

Here is an animation made by three of my students using some of the paper cranes, and photos taken throughout the week.

Music from http://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music/track/little-idea.

Up Close With Georgia O’Keeffe (5th Grade)

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Georgia O’keeffe is notable as both a pioneer of abstract art in the early 20th century, and for being a successful female artist during a time when the field of art was dominated by men. Although she is best known for her large scale paintings of flowers, these are just some of the many hundreds of images she made throughout her lifetime. Other subject matter includes cityscapes of New York, where she lived briefly, before moving to New Mexico, where she painted the distinctive southwestern landscape.

For this project, students selected a subject related to nature and zoomed in on it. We used Photoshop filters to turn our source imagery from straight photography into images that reflected the smooth brushwork of O’keeffe’s work. These Photoshoped images were printed and gridded. The grid allowed students to blow their images up further, by copying what they observed in each square into a correlating square on the final piece of paper. With the sketch complete, we learned to mix colors to match our source images and to use specific types of brushes to achieve a style of painting reminiscent of O’keeffe’s.

Welcome to “The Barnesville Buzz!” I am excited to offer this blog as an opportunity to share some of the amazing work that my students are creating. Time permitting, I will post images of each assignment, including information about source artists, unusual techniques, and in-process photos.

A buzz is a murmur, a quiet hum that can be amplified through great numbers of voices, hands, hearts, and minds, working in unison. A buzz is a state of movement, filled with energy, a busyness on the brink of chaos, yet perfectly orchestrated. This vibration is the spirit of joy that I carry into the classroom and that I encourage each of my students to embody through the process of art making.