The Art Mobile of Montana travelled to Dillon last week to meet with Dillon home school students and parents. The exhibit was set up at the Grace Bible Church and was an excellent venue for both viewing and making art. We started in the afternoon with a presentation on the art. Both parents and children asked questions about the pieces. One student wanted to know what the story behind Maggy Hiltner's "Familiar Faces: Hand me down blues" was. Together we all visually read the piece as if it were a comic book. Students started answering their own questions aloud as they scanned the piece. I told them that the fabric drawing is meant to trick us. "When we first look at it, it seems happy and pleasant, but if we take a closer look we'll see that it's actually kind of a sad story." Students were interested in all of the native paintings and drawings. The bright colors in Valentina Lapier's painting was the main reason why one person chose it. "It just makes me happy," said the student. After our presentation, we all walked down the stairs to tables ready for painting! In this project we created watercolor dreamscapes using various watercolor resist techniques. After our dreamscapes were set to dry, we created drawings of our "future selves" and then cut out and collaged them onto our dreamscapes. One girl drew herself as an artist with a painting palette. I asked her if that's what she wanted to be when she grew up. She nodded with a definite yes. I had so much fun with this group of kids. We had a wide range of ages and everyone really enjoyed the project together.
Darby High School- Darby, MT
This was the first visit from the Art Mobile to Darby! The art teacher and former UM graduate Sean Bryers was happy to see the names on the artwork,"Beth Lo was one of my professors!" We set the art mobile exhibit in Mr. Bryers' art classroom. For each class period, students looked through the exhibit and we talked about the art. In one class, I asked the students to choose an artwork that they are confused about and do not understand at all. One student pointed to Jon Lodge's, "Ridge Turbulence." I could see why the students chose it. "Ridge Turbulence" is very abstract, with the focus of the drawing on three white lines. I explained to the students that the drawing was made on a milk carton. Jon covered the entire unfolded carton with black paraffin wax. The white lines that you see are the ridges from the folds of the carton. One student said that she appreciates the piece more now that she understands how it was made. We then talked about how the material of an artwork can mean just as much as what is drawn on it. All of the class periods enjoyed see the work. After the day was over, I packed my van and was on my way to Dillon. The drive there was beautiful!
Victor K-12 School- Victor, MT
I was lucky enough to set up the exhibit in a beautiful auditorium. The space was amazing! We had great lighting and students could see the art well. Jennifer Ogden is the K-12 Art teacher at Victor and is one of our exhibiting artists in this year's show. I was fortunate to hear from Jennifer about her work and what inspires her. Jennifer talked about her piece, "Becoming the Fox." She told the students that the piece actually has another collage that goes alongside it. The second collage is of a hedgehog. "There's an old Greek saying and story about the fox and the hedgehog, does anyone know it?" Jennifer went on to describe how the fox is cunning, sneaky, and has many ways to defend itself. The opposite is the hedgehog. The hedgehog knows one thing and it knows it well. It rolls into a tight ball causing all of its spines to point outward. Jennifer often thinks about herself and asks others, "Are you a hedgehog or a fox?" "Sometimes we can be both", Jennifer went on to say that one isn't necessarily better than the other, they both can be effective strategies. In "Becoming the Fox" Jennifer created a collage of her son wearing a fox mask. She told the students that her son is graduating college this year and while he was in school, he changed his mind a lot. "He is more of a fox and I think my daughter plays it safe like a hedgehog." Jennifer then brought out more examples of her work and described to the students her process and other inspiration. Overall, it was a great day and it was interesting to hear from Jennifer about her work in her local community!
Boulder Elementary- Boulder, MT
The first part of our presentation was spent looking at the artwork on display. Students had questions about multiple pieces of art. The last piece we talked about was Daniel Biehl’s untitled etching print of a root morphed with a human leg. I told the students that it was untitled and wondered if we could come up with a meaning. Students talked about how the root could mean strength. One student said, “it’s about holding on to what you believe in and not letting the wind blow you over.” After we looked at the exhibit, I turned the presentation over to our visiting Helena artist Bonnie Lambert. Bonnie brought in large prints of her photographs. She explained how she paints on her large scale photo prints and collages found material to them. Her series was inspired by her favorite photographer, Lee Friedlander. She said that Friedlander used to take selfies before selfies were a thing. She mentioned that there is a self-portrait of Friedlander in the hospital with chaotic medical cords running all around him. “I did the same thing by photographing the forest floor. Then, I added even more chaos by painting more lines.” Students asked questions about the plants she found and what else she likes to photograph. At the end of the presentations, the 4-6 graders took turns looking at her large prints.
We ended the day with more art lessons. Our last lesson was with the 5th grade class. We made found poems with illustrations. The principal, Maria Pace, Joined in with the class and made her own found poem. Students enjoyed the activity. At the end of the day, the janitor, AMM board member Bob Worthy, and I packed the van and I was on my way.