Matisse at MFAA

This year at the Missouri Fine Arts Academy gave me another opportunity to play with curriculum I started developing a few years ago. The talent and drive of the students actually fleshes out my ideas quickly. I throw them a seed and they bring the tree to full fruition. Then I take that fruit back to Spiva Center for the Arts, where I continue to teach and revise with new, open audiences in ArtLab, a K-12 professional development opportunity.

This particular class started with a study of Matisse on 11x14 bristol board. They could choose the image they would render, and use a maximum of three mediums. I gave them a bit of history, showing them paintings through the paper cut-outs. We talked about representation, abstraction, distortion, and surrogates. Surrogates as stand-ins, symbols of representation. Next they developed a series of self-representational symbols. Sometimes they were direct references to existing symbols, sometimes they were original and carried secret meaning. The fun and brilliance came next, in the installation and variation created with these symbols. A bold group installation went up on a wall, consisting of black paper cut-outs representing one symbol from each student. They also installed their own tiny symbols in white card stock, some in clear view, others harder to find and surprisingly beautiful when discovered. Between installations, students worked on a series of folio pieces. These were experimentations and manipulations of the symbols using varied materials. Again, I showed several examples of pieces I had created, and they ran with it.

This is Ellen and her work. She curated and displayed her own work for the exhibition at the end of the academy. It's fantastic. I am extremely proud of these students. More to come!