Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Max Hayes Blows Glass.
"I keep looking at your blog, and I see you haven't been writing."
"You know, I've been starting to go back into your archives to read some of your old stories, since there's nothing new."
"When are you going to post our pictures? You promised us you would put them online weeks ago."
Thank you my friends, students, and readers for gently nudging, reminding, and finally out and out nagging me. You make me feel wanted.
I've been neglecting this blog for more than a few weeks, and I beg your forgiveness, but honestly, I have been busy.
The school year is flying by, and the Max Hayes Art Club, especially, has been having a lot of fun this winter.
From paint to pastels to play-dough, my students experimented with new techniques for classic materials and also reacquainted themselves with a sticky medium from their not-so-distant childhoods.
But as much as the kids enjoyed working in the studio at school, the real highlight of the past month was our trip to The Glass Studio on Superior Avenue one cold afternoon in February.
Mike became part of the Max Hayes family last year, when he took over the Phys. Ed. classes while the former instructor was on an extended leave of absence. An athlete a well as an artist, he also coaches the school's tennis team. Last year Mike raised money for the team with a silent auction of art glass which he and several other artists donated to the school.
The next red hot glob became a bowl as he showed the students how the glass responded to centrifugal force.
Blowing glass transcends the typical art lesson to become a fully integrated experience; combining physics and chemistry with creativity, visual problem solving, and aesthetics.
Each student in our small group was able to take a turn creating their own glass piece. Step by step, one at a time, Mike talked them through the process. By the end of our visit, five colorful paper weights were slowly cooling in the annealer.
People spend an awful lot of time in schools sitting through lectures, copying information, memorizing lists, and regurgitating facts... and after just a few short years, the majority of that information (or at least the stuff we don't need to use or think about) is forgotten, or sent to the brain's biological version of the cyber-trash bin and buried.
The learning that sticks with a person for a lifetime are often experiences outside the classroom, like those my students had at the Glass Studio this winter. It's kind of ironic, the things I volunteer to do on my own time will probably have a greater positive impact on my student's lives than the mandated curriculum I am hired to teach.
Experiential learning is by far the most effective learning method. The phrase is becoming my mantra.
The Cleveland arts community is the BEST!
Check the sidebar for a slide show of more pictures.