Saturday, February 26, 2011


I love it when my life in the classroom and outside of the classroom become indistinguishable.  I have been asking my students to think about their One Little Words in different ways and this week we connected our words to art.  We chose a work of art we felt represented our word and then wrote a piece explaining that connection.  I chose a collage by Charles Farrell and wrote the following piece:

Charles Farrell, Bullseye
First, I see red.  Letters, splashes, fruit skins and flowers.  The red draws me in. The heat of the color makes me feel aggressive, uncomfortable and alive. Next, the white between the images calms me.  It gives me hope.  I see that there is space and deliberateness and order, even in chaos. The white allows me peace. Finally, I begin to see relationships.  The women, the birds, the flowers and the fruit – they frame each other.  They form an unnerving feminine argument, something about beauty and maybe something about fear. I am not completely sure. I begin to like the way I don’t understand.

Discovery is like this for me.  Discovery is a step into something new, something previously unknown.  Discovery is a willingness to recognize one’s own ignorance, but also an opportunity to make one’s self more complete.   Discovery is what makes me hold my breath, but also what makes me want to breathe.

As I pursue discovery, I want it to look like this collage.  I want it to aggravate me into action.  I want it to be messy but precise, eclectic but connected.  When I look at this collage, I see something each time that was not clear before -- part of a word, a lone feather, a bicycle wheel – and this makes me see the art in a new way.  That is what I want in my life – for each discovery to inspire another.

I love collage art. If I had known that one could choose collage artist as a career, we might have one less English teacher in the world! I am so drawn to the relationships between the pieces and the unity that comes from a jumble of "random" images. That's life. All these pieces, all these moments -- scraps of assorted colors, pictures, words, and patterns -- they somehow stitch together and become our days and our memories. And when we look back at them, we see meaning, even if we did not see it at the time. It makes me feel okay about not understanding every little thing that happens. I can hold out hope that eventually the moment will find its way into the photomontage of my life and that when arranged with all of the other moments I didn't understand, there will be beauty and truth.

PS: I wrote my first "teacher" post at my new site, A Thicket and Bramble Wilderness. If you want to know more about the nitty-gritty of my teaching practice, check it out!


Dragon Fist Bandits said...

I really like the idea of relating our OLW's to a piece of art. I really enjoyed reading this and makes me want to do a better job on my own. i haven't gotten a chance to turn it in yet, (only because I can't remember to take it out of my folder). I originally wanted to use a photograph by Andres Serrano, called "The Piss Christ." I realize now that's a little to extreme for class and have deiced to settle on a nice picture of a type writer.
- marian j.

Susan Yang said...

I think that every collage invites discovery. It is open to personal interpretation and one can relate all the different parts (the faces, floral designs, colors) according to one's personality and values.

My OLW was creativity, and I chose the artwork Three Machines by Wayne Thiebaud. I also wrote about this artwork for my college personal statement. To me, it signifies diversity and creativity.

I think that this assignment itself was very creative and challenged us to truly interpret an artwork for ourselves, without a right or wrong answer.

-Susan Y.

brianna said...

The art idea was really interesting- my word is 'trust' and I have a very hard time finding a non-traditional work. In the end, I did go for a water color of three people in an embrace. It wasn't ideal, but to me it was powerful.
Art has really changed my life, and hopefully in college it can help me discover the world and more about myself.
-Brianna C

Stephanie said...


Are you planning to study art in college? You are such a talented young woman -- I am excited to see what you do in your life!