4. Scholastic India has launched a new series called “I am An Artist” with the inaugural titleRaza’s Bindu. It is about the well-known painter, S. H. Raza’s signature style of painting only the bindu/dot. It is a fascinating book that is part-biography, part-explanation of the evolution of the artist with images from his paintings. The book includes flaps that can be opened and explored by the 3-6-year-olds it is meant for. There are a couple of worksheets in it too. Tina Narang, Editor, Scholastic India wrote saying, “The ‘I am An Artist’ series seeks to make art and the artist accessible to children. The series has been launched with S.H. Raza’s Bindu. The books are meant to be participative in nature, so children can explore and experiment with their own creativity in relation to that of the artist. This book includes many interesting operations like gatefolds, and envelope folds to make it a fascinating journey for the child exploring the art of the artist.” The logo for the series is the first image on this blog post. Here is an interview with the painter from 2011 that explores his fascination with the dot. ( http://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/report-i-am-yet-to-tire-of-bindu-artist-sh-raza-1618538 ) . In fact he will be present at the book launch on 29 Nov 2014, Delhi.
Our Partner a Master program for this month was about setting the tone in a bid to inspire students to visually savour the rich history of pottery, in tow with ceramic artist Kristine Michael. Under her mentorship, students were taken to the potter’s museum at Sanskriti Kendra, Anandgram to have their senses allured by the artistry and craftsmanship.
The premise behind the museum visit was to soak in the visual imagery that our ancient and contemporary history has been rife with, over centuries. The spanning over of material culture, housed at the crafts’ museum gave the students a lucid entry point into the history of the same. Students made drawings of fine anatomical details, jewelry patterns and intricate mural paneling that the museum was dispersed with.
After a flurry of activity at the museum, the preceding sessions were at the artist’s home studio where the students played out their conjuration through the medium of clay. Kristine took them through some of the techniques and tools that are immaculate in the world of clay. Equipped with those learnings, students made their individual foray using clay. They made portraits, coiled pots, individual tiles for a holistic mural and composite creatures inspired from the visit at the museum.
Employing varied artistry into creating individual skilled products gave the students a new window into the world of pottery. Our mentor took them through the nitty-gritty of firing the clay in the kiln. She gave them hands on display into the modus operandi and dexterity that go into its aesthetic value. In the words of Sama, her “favourite part was the tile making where I depicted a marriage scene and used magnesium dioxide to paint it; this was the first time I had ever done something like this”. Students dabbled in the tactile material of clay, bringing to fruition, their own genesis.
When children walked into Suresh Jayaram’s public-private studio, 1Shanti Road, they were very taken by the serenity of the space. Comprised of few rooms and lots of open space, his art studio is a harmonious reflection of public and private space. Somehow, I felt this energy hum through the children as they worked at his studio. For his sessions with the students, Suresh decided to bring the children’s attention to the world of minimalism: What does art look like when it’s stripped of colour?
Someone famous once said that when you photograph people in colour, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls. And what Suresh set the children out to do was something similar – to bring out the soul in their works using black and white colours.
Dipping into his academic background, Suresh began the class by arranging a hunt around his studio. The children’s task was to sketch any object made of black and/or white that caught their attention. The agenda was to get them to grow accustomed to the eccentric studio and explore spaces that weren’t, but could become, their own. As they went around the house, scouting for objects unseen by others, they noticed that limiting their work to one colour brought to light how crude and childish their own sketches seemed.
“You cannot sketch by just seeing an object. You need to understand its form; touch it, hold it, feel it and find its centre. Then draw its outline and work your way in. you need not replicate the object. But you need to enjoy the process and find as many unique things about your object as possible. This uniqueness is how you will develop your style”, Suresh advised them.
Suresh’s whole exercise with the students seemed to be centred on slowing them down enough to notice the rustle of the leaves, the movement of the snails and be at one with this change. Predictably, there was great agitation and unrest, especially when the children noticed that their works were not as well-defined as their expectation. They constantly turned to him for assurance more than guidance.
But with the assurance came the urge to try more, experiment more and see more. This was reflected in their successive sketches of nature inspiration, cityscapes, portraits and abstract patterns. Their works grew richer not in terms of technique (which Suresh pointed out would take years to master), but in terms of life and details.
“Colour is just a distraction. Once you take off the distraction, all you will find is the form. To be a good artist, you need to see, understand and appreciate form above all else”, explains Suresh. We have become so attuned to colours in our lives that the idea of black and white either intimidates or depresses us because of its sheer minimalism. But Suresh Jayaram has opened a world of black and white and all its shades of grey for the children. And boy, do they love it!
In our Open Minds Book Club session for the month of January participants discoursed around A Whole New Mind Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H. Pink. The session, facilitated by Anubhav Nath; who is a curator, art philanthropist and Director of Ojas Art, New Delhi. The session saw teachers’ reason about how the right brainers are reigning supreme in the times.
Daniel H. Pink’s book is engaging and stimulating, that premises its basic argument around the right-brainers turning the tables and laying supreme control in the age of the ‘art and heart’. He lays optimum stress on the future belonging to a ‘different’ mind. According to him the times of sway of the left-brain are long over, making heavy leeway for the right-brain qualities to take over. Pink very suavely uses the two hemispheres of the brain to underline the nuances of the ‘cerebral engagement’ of the brain.
Pink very categorically states that the ‘right-brain’ qualities will ‘now determine who flourishes and who flounders”. He highlights that professional success and personal fulfilment can be rightly accomplished by a whole new mind. Setting the tone of the various ages man had straddled through Pink focuses on trends in the economy that which if addressed relevantly can have immense pertinence in the times of the Conceptual Age.
While discussing the second segment of the book the participants engaged with each one sense in novel ways with our facilitator. This portion looked at the aptitudes of design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning. Shuchi from Sanskriti School brought to the fore ways in which the right brain takes over teaching practices. She spoke about teaching chapters in science using poetry. Sancheta from The Shri Ram School, shared her experiences about teaching a math class using origami. The participants did some fun mind-tickling exercises that were a highpoint in the discussion.