Thursday, January 20, 2011

Organizing on a Budget

Every place I've worked, I've picked up tricks for a more efficient workflow. During my time assisting Sarah Pelsoh with the DIY Studio at MAM After Dark, I mastered how to create projects for a large quantity of guests on a very little budget. Resourcefulness is a skill needed by every artist. I also learned great organizational skills for an Arts Educator at the Racine Art Museum. All the supplies was grouped, labeled, easily accessible and visible. The supply closets at RAM's Wustum Education Wing are a desirable dream after bouncing around from different workplaces.

I am taking it upon myself to organize the supplies at my current work place on a $0 budget. Starting with the crayons which are in two deep buckets. For 6 tables, the crayons are usually tossed in piles in front of the children while a handful end up on the floor and get stepped on. When it's time to clean up, the crayons usually get thrown across the room.

I started handing the children plastic bags and assigned them each a color to pick up. Even the rowdiest children respond well to this. It helps focus their energy in a positive way. 

Now that I have all the colors separated I need a useful boxes for future use. I ended up making 6 divided boxes out of copy paper box lids, scrap mat board, and duck tape.

First I measured the the box. 
11.5" x 17.5" x 4"

Then I cut 3 pieces (per box) of mat board for the width. 
11.5" x 3.5"
And 2 pieces (per box) of mat board of the length. 
17.5" x 4"

I made the length pieces half an inch taller than the width pieces so I can wedge them together nicely later.

Next step: Cut 3 hash marks evenly spaced along the longer length pieces leaving a half inch on top.

Draw a 3.5" line at 8.75" middle mark Also Draw and 3.5" line 4.375" and 13.125" quarter sections.

Cut along the lines.

Evenly space and wedge the width pieces inside the hash marks on the length pieces to create a compartmental grid.

Snuggle grid inside copy paper box lid. Make adjustments as necessary.

Then reinforce compartments with duck tape.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Focusing in Chaos

Teaching kids art can be overwhelming and rewarding at the same time. A big challenge is getting a room packed full of energy to focus. So many voices wanting attention and to be heard. As the adult excited about teaching and creating it is frustrating when you can’t even get a full sentence out of your mouth before the room erupts in outside voices. But don’t give up. In that sea of laughter, squeals, and pranks there are a good number of children quiet, focused, and in deep concentration.

As an adult, it is easy to get thrown off balance by the fast pace of life and all the outside distractions. When I look at the art that these children can make in an over-crowded chaotic environment, I am completely inspired at the high level patience and care some have. It’s a good reminder that regardless of what the conditions you have no control over are, you can still gain control in the space in your own head.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Waterlogged {intro}

When I was a child I would spend hours under water. I lived isolated from most other children so I would run wild through the forest to what I called the wishing well. It was a small spring in the back of my childhood home. I played a game with myself in that spring by holding my breath and going under water. I’d think of all my dreams and wishes and wait until I couldn’t breath any longer and then count till ten until I finally came up for air. As a child, I truly believed this action was the key to all my happiness.  Little did I know that it caused slight brain damage to my temporal cortex causing memory loss and distortion. As I’ve grown into adulthood I’ve developed systems to help hold onto life’s high and low points as they pass by me.

I collect things. I pick up pieces, remnants, and tokens of all my experiences. My pockets are always full. It’s as if my memory is a sieve and it’s always so tragic for my personal history when my pockets break into holes. I can never remember to mend the rips and tears until I’m out on my next adventure. If I were smart, I would be selective on which memory tokens I put in which pocket. Maybe subconsciously I do. Sometimes life is difficult to understand. Those things that happen can be so confusing for a girl who has no recollection of her past. Memory loss during my formative years equates to the formative years of Christianity when those who didn’t understand the new attitudes would whitewash beautiful frescos and burn Christian Icons. The same goes for me. When I am confused by the actions of others, my emotions shut down and I become more selective on which tokens I choose to bring home, pack away, and catalogue in my personal historical archive. 

During my teenage years, my father gave me a camera. The first rule about the camera was to put the strap around my neck. The next rule was to go explore. This machine was the perfect tool for me and my damaged brain to archive my life as it passed by. Now I sit in my little home with shelves built to the ceiling on almost every wall filled with boxes of trinkets, ticket stubs, photos, buttons, cards, notes, rocks, and anything that can trigger the slightest feeling of time and place all shuffled and mixed up.

Sometimes I can’t sleep. The dark void in my head gets frightening. It feels like death when I can’t remember how I got to where I am or where I am going. It’s nights like these that I have to turn on the light and start rummaging through the boxes of token triggers. The only problem is that the boxes get shuffled on the shelves along with the contents inside. Memories of my early childhood may be stacked next to photos from my college years, but it’s all right because it’s all me, my life. All these things have shaped who I am today. Even if I don’t remember my identity the clearest, I use how others respond to me as context clues on my character and attitude.

On the walls not filled with shelves of boxes I display all the things I love. I try to keep the negative out. There is no sense in holding onto things that make me upset. It is a special gift to have a damage memory. Erasing the bad is so easy for a girl like me. Brain damage can be a positive experience once you can take control of your situation and shape it to your advantage.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Creative Ways to Deal with Loss

Every heartache, big or small, is another opportunity for serious self-improvement. When dramatic changes occur I begin to think of personal goals I wish to achieve and start laying the groundwork to achieve them. Large dreams need to be broken down into smaller, do-able pieces. Patience and determination is key.

I try to form new habits by creating daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly activities. High emotions can lead to a confusing mess of nervous energy. It is good to point that energy into a project that will help you become closer to the person who you always wanted to be.

Build something. Take a bunch of little pieces of something and create something large. I’m reminded of how good it felt to cut all my old denim jeans into little pieces and create such a heavy blanket. Go to the museum and break down what you see into the little parts that create something you find awe-inspiring. These are good ways to visualize the parts and steps you must take to make your own life awe-inspiring.

Create for the sake of creation. It can feel so good to simply dive right into something and watch the outcome pour out of your hands. Taking control in a creative process shapes your control over your own life. The way you shape and mold an object in your hands can lead to the knowledge of how you can shape and mold your own self.

Learn from your successes and failures and keep creating your own way.