Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Power Of Yes…In A Classroom Oasis

Imogene Drummond is my guest blogger with her observations on the work and play that she is doing with students at San Miguel Academy in Newburgh, NY.   Far from the standardized curriculum and tests that are being levied on public school students across the country, in the classroom oasis that Imogene has created, she gives permission to these special students to express their authentic intuitive selves.   The results?  
Non-quantifiable and…breathtaking.

Read more about how Imogene’s Divine Sparks program ignites these students’ creativity and greater self-awareness.

by Imogene Drummond

For me, there is no right or wrong, good or bad, art.  My goal is to facilitate individual creativity.  In Divine Sparks creativity program, it's important to leave criticism at the door and experience the joy, freedom, and empowerment that comes with expressing oneself creatively. 

I've said this before.  Because a student stated that he didn't like his painting, this is how I began the third Divine Sparks Film + Book session with the fifth-graders at San Miguel Academy in Newburgh, NY.   I think it can be helpful to hear this early and often.    

We then watched the second chapter in Divine Sparks film, and I showed the class one of my paintings from the film.  The boys shared what they saw in it:  a crescent moon, a face, water, a flower--and pointed out those shapes.  They asked intriguing questions, such as how long did it take to paint, and what did I have in mind when I painted it.  I explained that I had no idea what I was going to paint.  Before painting it, I'd been near the sea, and listening to the sound of the surf.  The painting was a visual expression of my experience.  I discovered later that the idea of aural inspiration resonated with some of them deeply. 

We then discussed some ideas in this chapter of the film, "Blue and You."  When asked what they thought this chapter was about, one boy immediately said,  "It's about how blue can express different ideas and images."  Exactly!  I'm continually impressed with how well these youngsters grasp the essence of a situation, and articulate that essence.  After discussing what blue means or symbolizes to them, and what some of their favorite blue things are, we then discussed how the color blue makes them feel.  "Calm," "alone," "alive" were some of the comments.  One student said 'light blue makes him feel happy and dark blue makes him feel sad.'  That opened up a discussion about the effects of various hues and shades of color.   

It was then time to create individual art works about what the color blue means to them.  In order to help them personally connect with this abstract idea, we did a short meditation exercise. The class quieted down as the boys closed their eyes, and I asked them to think about what the color blue means to them.  Then, I invited them to open their eyes and make a painting or image using whatever materials they chose.  One boy asked, "Can I make a sad painting?"  "Yes."  "Can I make a river of tears?"  "Yes."   What does it say about our culture that a ten-year old needs permission to express his authentic self because he fears his sadness may be received negatively?

Inspired by the film and painting, our discussions, and their meditation, the boys created wonderfully individualized images.  They practically dove into the abundant art supplies!  A wide array of blue paint including a silvery turquoise, marine blue with glitter (a big hit!), cobalt, and teal blue, along with colored papers, and recycled magazines provided an enticing selection of materials. 

"George" created a structural piece with an architectural-like composition with various blues in rectangular fields juxtaposed with circles--created by cleverly painting around the diameter of upside-down plastic cups.  "Esteban" constructed a 3-D painting with three ridged rows of ocean waves--made by cutting small pieces of blue paper and taping them together to make longer pieces, which he then sculpted into rows of waves--which he said he made because he likes the sounds that waves make.  "Henry" described his painting as telling a story:  Sailing on a blue sea, with white clouds and the sun shining in a blue sky, splatters of red paint in the sea indicated "new beginnings." 
"Rodrigo" covered his paper "canvas" with blue paint, constructed waves with crumpled turquoise tissue paper, then made a 3-D boat by folding white paper, glued it on the waves, and added a vibrant upright red 3-D fish on the water!

 "Kenny" painted a bold blue sea with a scalloped horizon line and an orange sky at sunrise/set, and starfish in the sea.  "Guy" painted two large fields of green dissected by a blue river with fish in it.  This provided an opportunity to talk about the importance of "negative shapes" in art.  "Emmanuel" divided his piece into two sections divided by a black line--on the right side, he painted several archetypal spiral shapes, and on the left side, he painted a field of dark blue.  Several boys put their names in the work--some overtly, and some subtly.  

Another student painted a poignant (self-portrait?) image of a child with a big orange face streaming large tears into a river below.  I especially admire and respect this child's self-expression because it took insight and courage to paint this, and to share it with the rest of the class.  This is what I'm aiming for!  If this youngster can find a suitable creative outlet to express his pain, he has a greater chance to circumvent expressing his feelings in destructive ways, and the possibility to create a more satisfying, meaningful life.   

I am deeply fascinated and amazed by how a multi-component process of inspiration, discussion, affirmation, and availability of art supplies in a safe and conducive environment results in individually expressive, self-empowering work!  

Imogene Drummond is an award-wining filmmaker, painter, futurist, author of articles on cultural transformation, world traveler, and former psychotherapist. Her experience, talent, and vision converge in Divine Sparks. She has an M.F.A. from MICA (the Maryland Institute College of Art)—one of the country’s premier art schools, and an M.S.W. from The Catholic University of America. Due to her many painting expeditions around the world, she was invited to join The Society of Woman Geographers.

Follow Imogene on Facebook:
Visit her Divine Sparks Website:
View her Divine Sparks Trailer:



No comments:

Post a Comment