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Amy’s Favorites

15 Dec

Overall, this class was important because it was (1) democratic, (2) partially focused on artmaking (which is lacking from our ArtEd department), and (3) allowed us to practice teaching skills to our peers.

1). Simon’s Styrofoam Etchings Workshop

Printmaking is my favorite media, but it can be expensive – using styrofoam for etching is a great solution. Simon also told me about a printmaking class where his professor had them use only their hands/bodies to make marks in styrofoam. I will be doing this markmaking exercise with first graders next semester.

2). Matt’s Animation Workshop

I have to do whole unit with puppets next semester with my second graders, and I am looking for ways to spruce it up. Stop motion animation will be perfect. I am also going to make flipbooks with my fifth graders who are working on a film.

3). I’m mad I missed: Jasmine’s Felting Workshop

I have heard a lot of people talk about Jasmine’s felting workshop – I was absent that day. Bummer. I guess I will have to teach myself! And I’m still dying to learn how to screenprint 😦

4). Food

Food obviously makes going to class more enjoyable. But I wasn’t sure how it could really help students until we saw that video on gardening during classes last week.

5). Blog Tutorial

I’m glad we have a record of our research that we can access after class is over.

AND I now have my own blog on 1970s interior design @


Instructions: an intro to Performance Art

27 Oct

In C&I I wrote a unit that introduced high school students to performance art through instructions. It featured the art of Yoko Ono, Sol LeWitt, Miranda July & Harrell Fletcher, and Laylah Ali & Dean Moss:

above: Yoko Ono’s instructions from her book Grapefruit

above: Miranda July & Harrell Fletcher’s Learning to Love You More website.

above: A painting the MoCA installed using the instructions of Sol LeWitt.

And here is a link to how Dean Moss transforms Laylah Ali’s two-dimensional guache paintings into movements and performances.

I have also attached a lesson plan on Sol LeWitt’s instructions for second and third grades. It was a blast to teach!

Pamphlet Stitch

20 Oct

You will need: a needle, strong thread, two or more pieces of paper, and an awl (expensive) or a pushpin (cheap).

1) Fold the stack of paper in half. Do not fold them one by one and then put them inside each other – instead fold them when they are stacked on top of each other all at once.
2) Punch three holes in the crease of the paper with your pushpin: one in the middle, two near the edges.
3) Sew. Here is a diagram:

And now you have a simple book. To make it fancier, use thicker cardstock for the cover, and lighter weight paper for the insides. I also attached a great pdf I found online about the pamphlet stitch and zines.

Some Modifications:

Nek Chand, Rock Garden, India

20 Oct

b. 1924 in Pakistan

Moved to India in 1951 “to work on the construction of a vast new city designed by [the Swiss architect] Le Corbusier as a showpiece for modern India” (215)

Dozens of towns were demolished to build Le Corbusier’s project. Nek Chand found a way to recycle these wasted materials.

In 1965 he began to build his “kingdom” (initially envisioned in a dream) with cement sculptures and structures. He learned many of his cement techniques by watching Le Corbusier. “He worked in secrecy for fear of being discovered by the authorities [-] the land was not his own” (215). By the time he was discovered in 1972, he had filled 12 acres with 2,000 sculptures:

“Although many city officials were outraged, local businessmen offered free materials… [and] as his creation developed, so did the support and interest of the citizens of Chandigarh. By 1976 the city authorities were forced by public opinion to relieve Nek Chand of his duties as road inspector and give him a salary to continue” (216).

“Outsider” Artist: “Nowadays people are calling me ‘artist.’ I don’t like this word ‘artist,’ only God pushed me to do this work. I never knew people would see it, I just made it for my own pleasure” (216)

Bibliography: Maizels, John. Raw Creation: Outsider Art and Beyond. London: Phaidon Press Limited, 1996.

Kangas: Public Art / Design

6 Oct

A kanga is a rectangular, cotton textile from East Africa.
It is often worn as a dress.

A typical kanga in East Africa consists of a wider border (Swahili: pindo), the central motif (Swahili: mji), and the writing (Swahili: ujumbe or jina).

“For a century, kangas were mostly designed and printed in India, the Far East and Europe. But since the 1950’s, more and more kangas have been designed and printed in Tanzania, Kenya, and other countries in [East] Africa.”

“Early this century, Swahili sayings were added to kangas.”
(Originally written in Arabic script, later in Roman letters, then in Swahili)
Many are obscure or ambiguous in their meaning.

“Kanga is all about sending the message. It is the equivalent of the get well, greetings, or congratulations cards in the western culture”
“Like the T-shirt, but incomparably more elegant and useful, it is a valuable medium for personal political, social and religious expression.”

“Kanga is an important tool for mobilizing people in East Africa. Kangas are often used in political rallies as a form of identity for people supporting a particular political party. Kanga has also been used to mobilize people in public health campaigns as well as creating awareness to particular development projects.”
“Whereas t-shirts apply equally well to men and women, kanga is something more appealing to women.”


Victoria Rowell at the Emmys, 2009
The cloth was made to commemorate President Obama’s visit to Ghana back in July. It was the first trip he made to Africa as President, and obviously, the first African-American President to visit Africa. The cloth says “Akwaaba”, which is Akan for “Welcome” and the golden symbols mean “Gye Nyame” (literally means, “no one but God can do it”) and the symbol of the stool, which is a political symbol of governance.

This is a kanga printed by the women project “Kali Mata Ki Ja” in Tanzania to teach women to bike!

The Peace Kanga Project is dedicated to supporting and promoting peace and unity in Kenya. Our mission is to distribute kangas with messages of peace to Kenyan women across the country.
The large figure in the center of the kanga is a West African symbol called “Bin Nka Bi” which means “Don’t bite each other”. It is a symbol of unity and democracy. The smaller repeated symbol around the border of the kanga is another West African symbol called “Siamese Crocodiles”. It represents 2 crocodiles that share a stomach but fight over food. It is a warning against tribalism and a call for cooperation and unity.


Yoko Ono: favorite artist

24 Sep

Yoko Ono (1933-present) is an artist and musician who was originally associated with the Fluxus movement. She often works through text and writes instructions for works of art:

(painting for cowards) (1961)
Drill a hole in a canvas and put your hand out from behind. Receive your guests in that position. Shake hands and converse with hands.

You can read more here: or buy her book, Grapefruit, which is full of hundreds of instructions:

Yoko Ono also does sculptural art which is interactive or instructional, plus collaborated with John Lennon on many pacifist political pieces: