Camp was such a special learning and teaching experience for students and teachers. For us as educators, we had to prepare and design a short but intense lesson unit for students and make sure that they could pick up some meaningful ideas and techniques from it. For students, they had the chance to spend 72 hours together with their friends and teachers. Learning wasn’t limited to just lesson either but the whole the whole!
This special art experience was about community building and to let my students understand the relationship between their emotions and visual elements. I prepared a gigantic canvas (25M X 1.7M LONG) for them to work on because we were not going to waste this spacious outdoor learning area!
We had 9 classes, 300 students and parents together to create this artwork! Every class had an hour to create and I divided students into three color groups and assigned them to be seated in the assigned colored area. To begin the lesson I did a little mediation breathing exercise with them to calm and center them.
After that I asked students what communal art is and what the definition of community actually is. Students were able to tell me that a community is formed by a group of people and that the bonding glue among this group of people is friendship, love, respect, and caring for one another. I made them lay down on the big canvas and they traced each other’s silhouette and they discovered that “lines’ and “Shapes” from the overlapping of their silhouettes were in a way a representation of that communal bonding.
The project was then divided into two main parts. Day 1, half of the 4th graders are responsible for building the foundation colour layer by using primary colours. Before they applied their assigned colour on the canvas, they studied the keywords from “Emotion & Colour Poster”. I asked them to transfer those feelings through their paint brush onto the canvas. When they are painting they tried to create a flat and smooth painted surface by colour-blocking. This foundation layer was essential because it was to support another half of the grade 4 students’ creation later on in process.
Day 2, another half of the 4th graders responded to the colours of the foundation layer with line, pattern, and mark. Before they started, I told them from looking at different types of line we could find the emotions from the artist when they were painting. For example, “Zig-Zag” line shows unstable and angry feeling; where “Curved” line shows calmness and peacefulness. After that they used their assigned colour to communicate with each other through applying different patterns. Students walked freely and find which shapes they would like to add marks on. By walking around and leaving marks on the canvas, students observed and received visual information from others’ marks and they also left their marks in a coherent way with others.
As students and parents were engaged in this visual communication process, I limited their oral communication. In which they were not allowed to use English nor mandarin. The only way to communicate with each other was using sign language and body language. For examples, they tapped on each other’s shoulders and gave people a thumb up to show encouragement. The whole idea behind this was to encourage them to focus on using visual language and to be encouraging to everyone throughout the creative process. Within around 2 days this communal art project was completed.
I am now adding varnish on top of it and touching it up.
It will be displayed in the Upper Primary GYM permanently soon!