This year, Arts for Learning has challenged the artists working in our afterschool programs to explore a common theme: “Made in Miami.” Students and artists across our afterschool programs are using the arts to figure out what makes Miami unique and meaningful to them. The following is an account from Teaching Artist Andrew Sloan about introducing the project to his students at Shenandoah Park.
The “Made In Miami” Project at Shenandoah Park is off to an energetic start. Having met twice with each of my four sections twice so far, it is clear there is an abundance of enthusiasm and readiness for whatever unfolds over the coming months. I used the first session as an opportunity to introduce myself through my work and also speak about the creative process. Particularly, how do you decide what to create – is it something you see, or a picture that comes to your mind, or, maybe a song – what can it be? I brought my easel and a painting from a series that I have been working on for the past couple of years based on Petrogliphs, rock paintings from Peru. I showed the kids my process. I brought my sketchbook and showed them the path. From a simple line drawing, I create color action illustrations (utilizing whatever materials – pens, markers, highlighters, color pencil, etc). From the illustrations, I create a larger painting using acrylic and ink on wood panels. The kids got to see and hear (EXPERIENCE) my work, but also learn and see the steps. For the end, I told them the theme of our project, “Made In Miami” and asked that they think and pay attention to what is around them that they believe to be unique to our city.
The second session was a “Creative Brainstorming” madhouse! Super fun. Full participation. Lots of left-field ideas and tons of energy. I set up poster board, had marker in hand and let the kids tell me, “What is it that is “Made in Miami”?” “What is unique about our city?” The results went in many different directions with plenty of suggestions (dogs, malls, cars) that one might argue could be found elsewhere, but through four sessions with four different groups, we found some common ground and some imagery that will serve as our foundation material moving forward. Lots of nature – flamingoes, lizards, orchids, oranges – the sports teams – Heat, Dolphins, Hurricanes – were big as well. The weather and the colors and the people were all mentioned in varying ways and degrees. All in all an interesting exercise in letting the kids go, and one that will provide the material for our visual art creations in the coming months.