Friday, May 01, 2015
This year's art exhibit, Crossroads of the World: Sights and Sounds of the Caribbean, was a big success thanks to the hard work of students and the support of Brackett staff and families. As always, many thanks for your ongoing support and appreciation!
Tropical Paper Flower Installation
Kindergarten students were introduced to the three-dimensional art form known as installation by discussing a piece created in 2011 by contemporary Caribbean/Surinamese artist, Marcel Pinas, titled, Sanfica. Installation art transforms a physical space and changes how the viewer experiences the space in some manner, often by infusing unexpected materials or objects into the exhibit’s location.
Students were then shown the work of floral installation artist, Rebecca Louise Law, and discussed how she transforms rooms by hanging thousands of flowers from ceilings, creating a magical and unexpected experience for people in the space.
After briefly discussing the bright, colorful flowers found in the Caribbean, students were informed that they would be creating paper flowers to hang in an installation similar to how Pinas and Law create their work. Students were led through a series of steps to create their flowers, including painting, tracing, cutting and gluing and the pieces were later linked together for the hanging exhibit.
All the Creatures In the Caribbean Sea
Students in grade one were introduced to early Caribbean culture with a reading of an origin myth from the native Taino people called, How the Sea Began by George L. Crespo. Like all origin tales, this myth “explains” how the Caribbean Sea and its animals were created, while forming the Caribbean islands in its midst. Students were then shown examples of ancient symbolic stone carvings created by the Taino tribe, called petroglyphs. These simple, stylized carvings represent animals, objects and people once important to the Taino tribe. Students were asked to guess their meanings, while discussing how symbols are used and created.
Students were then asked to create a class list to brainstorm animals living in the warm Caribbean waters. A lengthy list was created and students were shown pictures of colorful ocean wildlife. They were then instructed to paint a symbol to represent one ocean creature of their choice and to use previously learned painting skills such as overlapping colors, incorporating pattern and utilizing different brushstrokes in order to create “symbols” of ocean animals that represent the colorful essence of the Caribbean sea.
Tap Tap Buses
Colorfully painted and heavily decorated buses and trucks can be seen throughout the country of Haiti. Referred to as “tap taps”, these buses serve as a hired cab service for marketplace transportation. Passengers must loudly clap, or tap, the side of the bus to signal the driver when to stop.
Students in grade two were first shown several photographs of actual tap tap buses, paying close attention to the variety of pattern, symbols and detail used in decoration. No two taps taps are quite the same and each bus owner has their own preferences. This lesson was accompanied by a reading from the book, Tap Tap by Karen Lynn Williams, thus further bringing the tap tap experience to life.
Students were informed that they would be creating their own miniature tap tap buses out of clay. The element of geometric form was incorporated into the project. Each tap tap was built from one rectangular prism and two cylinders and students were led through the process of proper clay construction. The clay pieces were then kiln-fired and students decorated their buses according to their own design.
Paper Carnival Masks
Students in grade three briefly discussed how people from Europe and Africa came to the Caribbean hundreds of years ago, merging together, along with practices from the native tribes, creating a unique heritage and culture that has defined the Caribbean ever since. Today, countries in the Caribbean each have their own festivities and pastimes that originate from these cultures, while also being a separate interpretation. In Puerto Rico, several carnivals are celebrated throughout the country each year that revolve around African music, Spanish lore and the Taino (Native) use of masks.
The Vejagante is a horned creature that originates from a Spanish legend surrounding Saint James the Apostle. Over the centuries, the character has been reinvented as a jovial, mischievous clown who embodies the playful spirit of these unique Caribbean carnivals. Many Puerto Rican citizens don masks and costumes and mimic the vejagante’s behavior while enjoying and partaking in the festivities.
Students were shown several examples of papermache vejagante masks, created by folks artists, using traditional and non-traditional styles. Students were then instructed to design their own carnival mask from paper.
Greetings from the Caribbean:
Postage Stamp Design
Tourism readily comes to mind when one thinks of the Caribbean. Students, also, were quick to list things that pertained to tropical vacation activities when asked what they associated with the area. This is not surprising considering that travel to Caribbean countries has been a large industry in the area for many decades. However, in addition to climate, natural surroundings and wildlife, there are many attractions in the Caribbean countries, including architecture, cultural heritage and complex history.
Students reviewed and discussed how the character of the Caribbean as we know it today, was created and influenced by the European slave trade and the merging of European, African and Native American cultures, over several hundred years. Students were shown a photographic “tour” of the various aspects of the Caribbean environment, both natural and human-made. They were then shown many examples of postage stamps from various Caribbean countries and islands, with careful attention brought to the type of subject matter that is typically used to depict and represent a particular country. Students were then instructed to design a postage stamp for any Caribbean country of their choice.
Personalized Banner Flags
Students in grade five reviewed and discussed how the character of the Caribbean as we know it today, was created and influenced by the European slave trade and the merging of European, African and Native American cultures, over several hundred years. African people who were brought to the Caribbean colonies to work as slaves, also came with talents, knowledge and skills which they were not permitted to use, including the practice of their religions. However, African religions, as well and music and dance, have influenced aspects of Caribbean life and culture for many people living there today. In Haiti, followers of traditional African religions use heavily sequined banner flags, known as drapos, to garner the attention of African spirits whose help they wish to elicit. These banners are made by Caribbean folk artists using traditional techniques and typically contain the name and symbols pertaining to the spirit for which the banner was created.
Students were instructed to design a personal banner to represent themselves, choosing symbols that best describe their personalities, interests, hobbies and skills. Students were given an array of shiny materials, including sequins, with which to embellish their banner, making them even more “eye-catching”.