Through the Window

"Through the Window," a short film featuring young children's impressions of the Yale Center for British Art (designed by Louis Kahn, completed in 1974) from vantage points inside and outside, and the art collection within, premiered Saturday, June 21 in the museum's auditorium in New Haven. Sean and I were commissioned by the Education Department at the museum to collaborate with first and second grade children from the Foote School for the project. The premise of the film came from producer Cyra Levenson, Associate Curator of Education: have small groups of 6-8 year-old children narrate the world as seen through the lens of Kahn's last building, with particular focus on looking through the large window within the 4th story gallery housing many of J.M.W. Turner's paintings from the 19th century.
The children came to the project with characteristic poetry and wisdom. Here are some excerpts from their narration:

• All the things outside are the painters of this painting. All the cars, all the people, all the bricks, are the painters. Everyone is a painter. The painting is called “Outside.” It must have took him a long time to make this painting, like a hundred million years, and everybody moving and stuff, and all the cars.
• A painting’s kind of like, if you walk right into it, you’d slam right into it, you’d probably break it. In the real world, you can walk around in it.
In the real world, you can go in stuff, you can touch stuff.
• When you’re an architect, you’re kind of like, important, cause you designed the buildings, and if there were no architects, it would be hard for the people that build the buildings, to decide where to put the stuff, cause they didn’t have a plan.
• I see trees, the leaves on trees, and the wind is blowing them.
• The building has probably more than a thousand pools in it.
• There are lots of tiny people one inch tall waving at us.

The Puppets Ate the Sun Up

While making the final edit of the PS 27 videos for the end-of-project school screening today, I was again struck by the poetic language of the kindergarten children, as evidenced by this story Vertyce told about her group's play with their puppets, planes and backdrop representing Coffey Park:

When the sun woke up, the sun fell down, cause it was hot.
I got on the sun, then I got burned-ed.

The fire truck fired all the sun down, then it melted.

The sun melted, cause they put water on him,
and then the wind blowed the sun, and after that, it fell on the ground.
And then the puppets ate the sun up,
and then they spit out the sun, cause it was very hot.
And the sun got warmer, and then they ate it all up.

These children's poems will live on in the in between spaces, among the images of their lives, lived through story, when the children look back over these videos for years to come. At times like these, I truly believe in the video medium as a powerful tool in capturing such profound ideas that would not be remembered otherwise.


Puppets and Planes at Rotunda Gallery

Our DSW/PS 27 School Arts Partnership Grant project is currently on display at BRIC's Rotunda Gallery in Brooklyn Heights, in the 16th Annual KidsArt Exhibition, curated by my colleague Hawley Hussey. The teachers (Shariffa Martinez, Andrew DeMers, Sandy DeFrancesco and Elizabeth Pavis) and I took all three classes, Pre-K, Early Kindergarten and K-1 (Self-Contained), to the gallery to interact with their own videos made over the course of the year, their backdrop and props (puppets and planes), and some representative picture story books compiled by my co-teaching artist Terry Solowey. What a wonderful culminating event of this year-long project!


Our Shadows are Real Animals

I have been making videos with first graders exploring the theme of play between animals. As much of the action has taken place outdoors, in the school yard, I was not surprised to see the element of shadows come into the children's narrations of their videos. Many creature-like shadows came alive underneath the children's running, skipping, hopping, trampling, searching forms, and upon viewing these taped images, the children took note, and seemed to be taken with the arresting shapes their shadows made on the earth, and intrigued by their abilities to manipulate their own shadows. See this compilation and notice the scientific and poetic conclusions the children have drawn about shadows. What sparked my interest in compiling this short piece, aside from my own wonder at shadows and thrill at seeing young children explore them, was the breathless comment of the boy in character as a Mouse searching the school building for a lost cat and bird, who turned to me and said with amazement: "Our shadows, they look like real animals!!"