more reflections

Now that I have a little more distance from our collaborative projects, I have even more thoughts and reflections. I think Nikki and I both learned a lot from asking others to engage in collaboration (whether they knew it or not). I found myself constantly having to explain different aspects of collaboration as my students worked, especially regarding the type of communication that should happen when collaborating with others. This communication between group members became one of the most important things for my students to learn and improve upon during this process. In the beginning, many of their disagreements and problems resulted from poor communication with eachother and lack of compromise. As they moved on, there was a noticeable change in language that indicated they were making an effort to consider the ideas of others.

One of my classes that participated in this project has recurring behavior problems and therefore became the subject of a staff meeting this past week. As teachers and faculty sat together discussing what to do about with this group of students, I was told that maybe I should not do any more collaborative projects with them. The reasoning given was that these students "were not ready for it." I was disappointed and I disagreed. The fact that I had seen improvement was reason enough for the project, even if there were some stressful moments. The communication and compromise inherent in collaborative work are important skills to learn, especially for these students. If they are never asked to do it, then how will they learn?

In comparing the experiences that Nikki and I had, I think one of the most interesting differences was student's behavior. Nikki's group seemed to have less problems working together than mine, and I think age could be a big factor. Overall, both groups produced some interesting artwork. If I were more adept with sound technology, I think it would have been more inline with our original presentation ideas to emphasize specific soundbites so that we could present the experience more through the audio in addition to the work. Personally, I got a lot out of listening to the audio, but might have been more effective if it were edited down for others.

Anyway...I'm glad we tackled this project and am excited to move on to a different type of collaboration.



While visiting the Greenbelt City Community Arts Center I had the opportunity to speak with an artist-in-residence. She is a professor at UMBC and works on the costume design for Prince George's Community College. By listening to her descriptive details of set design and costume design I was able to visualize theatre as a collaborative effort. At first one might consider the actors, playwright, and set design. The professor helped me to understand what happens behind the closed curtains. I was able to look at costumes and other work the artist created. The professor told me that the costume designer collaborates with the set designer as well as the lighting specialist. The production of a play is truly technical and multi-layered. Periodically the professor has to meet with the groups named above to reconsider color combinations, clothing patterns, props and much more. On a larger scale this collaborative work must be exhausting but yields great rewards. I imagine that the art department in primary and secondary schools must collaborate with other departments such as the maintenance crew to compose a successful play. 


Mission: Success!

A week ago, I almost considered my Lego Star Wars collaboration art/space station making experience a 'failure.' I was expecting a single, impressive, coherent space station-inspired sculpture, which is far from what I got. The sculpture wasn't a sculpture at all. Instead it was a seemingly unconnected mini-sculptures and several handfuls of single Lego bricks.

After a few days, I decided that collaborative Lego project was not a failure, I just had a bad objective. My (unverbalized) objective never stated "the students will work together to make a single Lego sculpture," nor should it have. Brianna and I intended to learn about the process of youth collaboration, not to necessarily to get academically perfect artwork. Beyond our collab studio project objectives, I wanted my boys to have fun, learn to work together, and think outside the box (or, in this case, the directions booklet). In these ways, the Lego Star Wars project was a huge success. My students enjoyed it, it fit seamlessly into my lesson plans, and Brianna and I learned a lot. Not to mention, I think the pieces that did come out of it are pretty darn cool.

Overall, I really appreciate Brianna's original request to make our project education-oriented. My interest in art education is more focused on the nerdy human development aspects of the curriculum, rather than necessarily preparing professional and revolutionary artists. Brianna's idea for our project really enabled me to explore and apply my nerdiness AND produce art rather than just go back and forth drawing with Brianna.


next project

I thought it was interesting on Friday to see how the projects manifested in reality. I thought that Nikki and Briana's projects were helpful from an art educator's standpoint for a number of reasons. First, to see what the differences in attitudes towards collaboration would be in wildly varying age groups. Though both groups of students were made up of kids with varying learning abilities and needs, they seemed to react quite differently. As we discussed in class, I am sure part of this has to do with being a school environment v. a fun Saturday class, age, being graded or not, etc. But I think it would be helpful (and it was for me) to give a great example to future teachers of what can realistically be expected of both age groups in working together, final product, and what can be accomplished in the given time frame. I also thought it was interesting that although the groups worked independently that we both incorporated sound in to the final presentation of the work.

I am really looking forward to working together as a group. We seem to be on a familiar page with each other and I think we will come up with some interesting art work.