I have always admired Faith Ringgold and her narrative blankets. She does such a wonderful job capturing the emotion, combining different textures, colors and moods. I have always wanted to make an art inspired by her with my students.
Tar Beach (Part I from the Woman on a Bridge series), 1988 (Gauggenheim Museum)
Being a preschool teacher, I have to be flexible, a little. Last year we painted on different surfaces, including canvas and cloth. Kids loved it (and we have an amazing pirate flag thanks to it) but it can be very frustrating for the kids to really capture their idea the way they want it to. So, even though it is an amazing sensory experience and we will definitely do it this year (a lot)… I decided to go with paper for this project.
I do not like cookie cutter art. I feel like it does not really teach the kids anything and is only about fine motor skills. It can be frustrating and it does not allow for any creativity. When I teach the kids, I introduce them to an artist, technique or an idea and let them take over.
We have started by not talking about the blanket and Faith at all. I just gave them pieces of paper and asked them to draw something about themselves with a black sharpie. I went around and let them start telling me about their art. I recorded their stories. One girl drew herself playing soccer with her dad, one boy drew a rainbow because he would love to eat rainbow cake. Another girl drew a green octopus under a green sun and big gray rain cloud because she really liked it and did not want it to rain. They all came up with small narratives for their art and they all turned out so different.
Then they colored them in with watercolors. I modeled counting to 5 when mixing the paint and they did so well. Phase one was done so fast! Next week – phase two.