Last week was my favorite week of Summer Camp so far. This is because the theme was Bauhaus. I am obsessively in love with the Bauhaus art movement; it’s influences can be seen everywhere today, from IKEA furniture to the abc tv logo, and even Apple computers. Bauhaus stripped art down to it’s basic principles and focused on formal elements such as color, pattern and shape. Look, I’m starting to ramble already, see how much I love Bauhaus?? The kids also seemed to really get into the projects, and the theory behind them.
The big (and unsurprising) take away from all of this is…
The more passionate you are about a theme, the more excited the kids are going to be about it.
You may look a bit crazed, and they might play it cool and pretend to not be buying into your frenzied enthusiasm, but they are (well most of them are, some of them just think you are crazy), and the proof is in their work.
One obstacle that we hit on, is that so many of the Bauhaus projects relied on being able to paint/cut/draw ‘clean’ shapes. Motor skills vary greatly with elementary school age kids, and some kids found the painting tasks a little too challenging, so we took a step back and learnt some painting and drawing techniques for a while. The nice thing about summer camp is you can go at your own pace.
I tend to concentrate on process more than outcomes in my camps, which means that sometimes projects can change direction and take on a life of their own. The printmaking project was one of those projects that had more juice in it than expected, so we kept developing it further. I think that the two artists that the kids seemed to like the most were Josef Albers and Freidensreich Hundertwasser. Why?? Here is my big lesson of the week:
Elementary students like to hear stories. They like to hear juicy little morsels of information about artists, that make them more human in their eyes (click on the links for cool kids’ books about the artists). They were delighted to hear that Hundertwasser, changed his name to mean ‘Free Kingdom Hundred Waters’ and recycled his own poop, and that Joseph Albers was a primary school teacher, and his father was a house painter. Tell them stories, put the art in context, laugh about it a bit, and make it more reachable and fun.
Next week is going to be all about Games. Art games, board games, shadow puppets, and old school yard games. I’ll let you know how it all goes!