Tuesday, June 30th, Scribbles Center for Learning came to my studio for an art camp.
I explained that instead of replicating an image, we were going to participate in a conceptual art project. The project is called the Community Tree Project. It has three parts: the leaf, the tree, and the fruit. I shared that a concept is an idea. We were going to create a Community Tree and it would take all of us, working together, to make the tree.
Using the leaf as a metaphor, I told them that each of us are special and unique. And every one of us is needed to create a whole, larger than ourselves. When we work together, in our uniquely gifted way, the world becomes a place where hopes and dreams come true.
The students were excited and ready to get to work. They began by creating a leaf that reflect their personality by using color, line, shape and preference.
Each person got two pieces of paper; one white and one colored or patterned to force some variety in creating their leaves. The leaves they created represented their individuality.
After working on their leaves, we discussed the concept of community. I asked the kids what community meant and they did a great job of sharing the concept of community.
“Community can be defined as a group of people who live in the same area (such as a city, town, or neighborhood), or a group of people who have the same interests, religion, race, etc. Let’s call it--people you choose to hang out with.”
Continuing the dialogue about community, I shared, “You know how I was saying we are all unique and different? No one is exactly like someone else. No one has the same hair, or eyes, or fingerprints. Even identical twins have different fingerprints. If you examine an oak tree, each leaf would be an oak leaf, but each one would be different than the others. The leaves you made are all original. Even if you tried to make one exactly like your friend’s, it would be one of a kind, just like you! It would reflect you, the creator--your preferences and your creative expression."
"Even though we are all different, we all have feelings, hopes and dreams. We want to be loved and feel valued. We are more the same, than different.”
Then I asked the question, “How healthy would a big oak tree be if it only had one leave?” I got the correct answer, “Not very!” I explained that even though we are all different, we are more the same than different. And, we need each other. I told them that I wouldn't want to grow all my own food, or have to go out to milk the cow to get a glass of milk and that playing a game of ball would be impossible without others. Community, for good or for harm, isn't optional.
Now it was getting fun! We took turns and came to the tree one by one, and added our leaves. You could feel the excitement as we watched our tree come to life!
The final part is designed to have them, as a group, think about what things they want to have in their “community.” I call that fruit. Healthy trees produce fruit. I asked them, “What values best describes the kind of community that you would want to be a part of? Love, peace, compassion, sharing, friendship, fun or maybe bullying? What about lying?”
We picked out some great values to add to our tree. Creativity, learning, love, fun, friendship and sharing were a few of them. We each got to place our “fruit” on the tree and I added one that was off the tree to represent sharing. I believe that sharing is a part of any healthy community.
To wrap up our project, we ended by discussing the concept that you can do more with each other than alone. I shared my hopes with them that as they learn and grow, I hope they will make good choices and be a part of communities where their dreams can come true. I reminded them that they can choose the type of community they want to be a part of and they can even change an existing community by what they do. For example, if someone is alone, you can be kind to them. That changes things for the good and created a brighter community. Individuals are small, but together we are bigger than ourselves. A small community of determined people, can make a big difference.
We ended the day by me sharing one of my collaborative conceptual art projects called “Taste and See” which Don McCormick, Chocolate Artist and Pastry Chef, made one of my images, but he used 100% chocolate. Of course, the children wanted to eat it, but I did have a few chocolate “fruits” for them to eat instead.
It was a fun and productive day with the children from Scribbles.