Recently Completed Works and Lessons:

This is an example of a public outreach project that I created for Mount Royal University to help celebrate their Centennial and get the public and student body active in contributing to the time capsule that was created.  Students were given a box template and a variety of materials to work with.  They were asked to create something using the matchbox that they would like to pass on to those opening the capsule in 100 years.  The work created was incredible and the response from the public was very encouraging.  This premise was used because the organizers were looking for some artwork that could be created, but potential participants are often quite frightened by the idea of making art.  To make it less intimidating, I created this project, which could be considered a craft, a word much less intimidating. By providing a series of “enabling constraints” participants were able to comfortably engage in the activity, each with great success.  I have also used this activity as one of our In Gallery Projects at The Art Gallery of Calgary.

This project was created for a program that I run through the Art Gallery of Calgary and the Calgary Public Library.  The first Saturday of every month, we meet for 2.5 hours and spend time exploring art based on a different theme.  My students are from all walks of life, many of them simply looking to learn more about the world of art, and to have a chance to explore different techniques in an art activity.  It presents many challenges, as the class is not stable (many participants come and go) and we are restricted based on the environment (it is in a library) and the supplies.  Because of this, I need to be incredibly adaptable with the way in which we approach a theme.  The Theme for February was “Art Around Town” and I brought in a guest speaker to talk about the power and prevalence of Street Art and what it meant here in Calgary.  My true challenge was in creating a meaningful activity with minimal supplies.  After thinking about the nature of Graffiti and Street Art, I settled on creating an Altered Book Page.  In this project, students were asked to create a piece of poetry using the words on an old book page.  They were asked to use, transform and otherwise make their mark on something that previously had another function.  This is the sample that I created, thinking about the origins of graffiti, the train.

This work comes from a simple drawing assignment that I have used with students of all ages for a variety of purposes.  The activity is based on the blind contour drawing, where the student has to draw their face without looking at the paper.  In this incarnation, students must close their eyes, and feel their face with their non-dominant hand, starting with their nose and pathing over their entire face.  This trains the hands to move together, where one hand creates the line and the other records it.  It is a wonderful warm-up exercise, and it is something that helps people to discover their own bodies.  I had a 65 year old woman come up to me after doing this exercise and tell me that in all her years, she had never really thought about her chin before, how it was shaped and where it stuck out on her face.  Students can relax with these drawings, because they are not supposed to look like anything, they are simply the recording of a process.

This is a sample of a book making project that was designed in collaboration with three other student teachers in my 409 Specialization Class.  It was created with the purpose of serving a student as both a sketchbook and a piece of art.  We had all reflected on our experiences with keeping a sketchbook, and how they had served simply as annoyances that were completed for a grade, not a productive art making experience.  We drew on inspiration from Artists who created Books as finished works, and came up with this project.  The idea centres around the idea of the sketchbook (the document of process) as a full piece of art in its own right.  The students will create the book, and fill it through the term with their assignments, works in progress, ideas, and writings.  It will be the primary place that they complete their assignments, freeing them up to complete larger works that synthesize all of the concepts that the Art curriculum requires.

These two panels were taken from the Comic Book lesson that I created for The Art Gallery of Calgary.  In Contains Graphic Content, Secondary students are able to explore the way in which comic books narrate many aspects of North American History.  We also look at the ways in which Comic Artists are able to tell successful visual stories.  The following is an excerpt from the lesson, specifically about these two panels, where we are discussing the nature of censorship and its effect on popular culture.

Some of the horror comics companies started to make science fiction comics to see if those would be approved by the comic code, one of those comics was called Judgment Day – published by Weird Science in 1953.

The story takes place in the future when an astronaut visits a planet that is being considered for part of a galactic alliance of peace.

The planet has orange and blue robots.  The orange robots have many privileges and are educators and law makers.

The blue robots are laborers.  They are separated from the orange robots and live in blue town. They have to sit at the back of the transit cars and in separate areas outside even thought he blue and orange robots are made of the same parts.

In the very last cell of the comic, the astronaut is leaving the planet as he has decided their needs to be more changes to their society.  The astronaut takes off his helmet and we see he is an African American man.

Do you like the idea for this comic? Is it interesting?

What real social problems could this comic be referring to?  

It references racism, segregation and the Civil Rights Movement.

Do you think that the CCA would approve this comic book?  Why or why not?

This comic was banned in its 1956 printing by the Judge Murphy the head of the CCA because he objected to the central character being black. 

Judge Murphy and Max Gaines (head of EC publishing) spoke, and Gaines threatened to sue the CCA.

A concession was made – Judge Murphy just demanded that the beads of sweat be removed from the mans forehead, Gaines refused.

What is the danger of censorship like the CCA?

What do you think may have been better than censoring all comics? Rating system – we have that today with games and movies.

Eventually Incredible Science Fiction #33 was published with the approval of comic code, though by that time, EC comics was already cancelling most of their titles.  Only MAD comics continued to thrive.


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