Thursday, March 31, 2016

Speak Out at NHS

Today I had the privilege of attending a Speak Out Assembly at Needham High School. This is an annual event centered around the wellness program Own Your Peace. The entire school assembles in the gymnasium where a handful of students share personal stories, struggles and resolutions that they've experienced and overcome. The stories today were incredibly raw, honest and vulnerable. I'm struck at how courageous and strong these young individuals are to face their peers, share their weaknesses and rally around their strengths. The student body was engaged, supportive and it is clear that connections were made. It was an extremely moving event to top off the already meaningful experience of working with these young artists on their installation projects.

During that past 6 weeks I've been working with the art instructor, Wendy Hodge, and her two senior level art classes on the subject of creating interactive collaborative installation art. This project is made possible with a grant from Needham Education Foundation and you can read more about it here.

Both The Cave and The Bridge show much progress from my last visit two weeks ago. Students, staff and teachers have been actively Making Their Mark and adding thoughts to strips of fabric before attaching to each of the two installations.

The installations will be up until April 1. The Cave will be re-installed elsewhere in the building and The Bridge will be disassembled and sewn into a quilt for future classes to add their own pieces to it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Owning Your Peace at NHS

This February and March, the community of Needham High School (NHS) is participating in a collaborative schoolwide event designed to initiate dialogue, strengthen ties and promote wellness. As a visiting artist, I am facilitating senior art students in the creation of an interactive collaborative installation that will be activated for two weeks leading up to a school wide SpeakOut event as part of the Own Your Peace program.

Own Your Piece/Peace is a student-driven emotional wellness initiative in its 8th year at NHS. OYP is the way everyone at NHS can take care of themselves and each other. When you own your P-E-A-C-E you understand and respect your individual needs, feelings, and goals, and find healthy ways to face challenge. When you own your P-I-E-C-E you respect other for who they are, reach out to build relationships with those around you, and seek out resources for all.

Two installations invite the community to write messages on strips of fabric about how they 'Own their Piece/Peace', which they knot onto a framework. By honoring each individual student's voice as an integral and important piece of the school's culture, this activity embodies the power of art as connection and reinforces the principles of the OWN YOUR PIECE/PEACE program.

My time with students has been about the 'how-to' of public art installations from concept to production. With a series of brainstorming sessions the students from each of two classes created their own approaches. This state of evolution, like most open ended projects, has been present throughout the process and continues to be assessed daily as the activity is realized.

Working as a team, they determined their objectives and how to incorporate them with the principles of OYP. Parameters covered everything from concept, to material, to color,  to OYP,  to fire codes to maintenance restrictions and more. Tasks were divided between them so that all aspects from advertising, to maintenance, to material prep etc. have been considered and taken responsibility for.

I visited yesterday and today for the first time since last week and am so heartened by their final installations and the buzz they're creating around the school. This has been a true collaborative experience where each student of each class is owning it for themselves and for their community.

I'm grateful to Wendy Hodge and Needham High School Art Department for inviting me, to Needham Educational Foundation (NEF) for their generous support and most importantly the creative force of the senior art students.

One class designed a Cave where participants are invited inside a cocoon-like structure built under the stairs of a popular hangout. It has been a magnet for much socializing and some very interesting conversations.

Teachers are taking time out of their busy schedules and visiting the installations with their classes.
Everyone's interested in this inclusive approach... using art as an entree into healthy discussions.
Each class determined they own ideas, names, statement, location and shape of their project.

The other class installed on a bridge that connects the old building to the new. Enamored with the metaphor of bridging and connecting, they're providing monochromatic strips in shades of purple with the intent of unifying their message. The found gridline existing architecture functions as the foundation for the knotted ties.

Inspired by a public art project with swarms of butterflies that travel all over the world, they encourage people to tie their ties in other meaningful locations in the building and look forward to watching where they aggregate.
These ties will be removed at the end of two weeks. There are plans to sew together into a quilt and displayed. This will commemorate their event and provide opportunity for future events to add to it in the future.
The 'Materials Maintenance' committee makes sure to keep up with supplies with multiple check-ins each day.
Students walking by and stopping to leave a note.

Monday, March 7, 2016

FiberLAB Session III begins this Saturday!

We have an amazing environment where makers can experiment freely with materials provided, expand on current projects and learn from each other. We lose all concept of time and place and get lost in our work with lots of laughs and energy.  Participants quickly bond to each other's work process, with several collaborative and wonderful demonstrations of new techniques as well.

I'm super excited and honored to be a part of this community and witness the creativity and ingenuity of everyone's process. It's only been two sessions yet we've learned so much already about basketry, sculptural crochet, weaving, embroidery, felting and organic freeform abstraction.

Read below for all the info. If interested, you can sign up using the Paypal button in the sidebar of this blog... just choose location and session and the rest is easy.

THE FIBER LAB is an independent study group that provides individual instruction, exposure to contemporary art, experimentation with material and technique and a membership to a maker community.

- Individual tutorials of a myriad of fiber techniques including needlefelting,
sculptural crochet, weaving, embroidery and more
- Introduction to alternative materials
- Access to studio tools, books and materials
- Materials included for instruction of new techniques and experimentation
- Gentle peer group consults for feedback and information exchange
- Mentoring
- Nurturing environment that encourages risk taking and experimentation

Lots of time for individual instruction. This is an opportunity for those who are new to working with materials as well as the fiber enthusiast who is looking to add to their repertoire of skills.

Choose from two locations:

Weston Center
Every second Thursday 10:30a-1:30p

Session III  Mar 24, April 7, 21 2016

Miller Street Studios
11 Miller Street, Somerville MA
Every second Saturday 10:00a-1:00p

Session III Feb. 27, Mar 12, Mar 26 2016

Cost: $ 280.00 per three class session

All Levels Welcome!

Jodi Colella