Learning goals: Create artistic representation of their internal and external identity; explore the concepts of visual symbols and metaphors and thoughtfully choose at least three items to represent their identity
Activities: Identity Portrait
The kids are used to art and drawings that is rather safe – they are assigned a topic in their school art classes and perusal of their art books & accounts from them told us that there’s little room for experimental art. The portrait exercise, which they took a little time to grasp but once they had gotten the idea down, set to work enthusiastically, ending with some truly incredible pieces.
Insights/surprises: We included a game as an icebreaker for the first couple of workshops, but realised that there really was no need this week – we could dive right into the week’s main activity because there was momentum built from the previous session.
When we started, it was hard to get them going because they’re so used to people spoon-feeding them, but we found that if you give them a bit of direction and let them be, they can do it. it’s just about getting them used to it.
The kids were a bit intimidated by the medium of watercolor; only two had used it before. They are in general a little apprehensive when given an out-there topic but some guidance, do well.
Some of the ideas are really awesome, and it’s interesting to think about how they come up with their own thoughts. One girls did a whole story – her neck has water, and she’s floating, and a small kid swimming there. “I like going to the river, and I like to swim, and I like to climb trees.” The identity portraits really end up as an amalgamation of their thoughts and dreams and ideas.
Workshop feedback: The kids were surprised by the end results, and were very curious to learn about each others’ portraits, especially as we asked each one to talk about their projects. This was one of the first workshops where the kids started asking a lot of questions about each other.
Ongoing challenges: We found that the Tamil medium students didn’t come to this workshop, and it’s worth looking at why that might be, as a way to strategise how we might engage them more.
Students also require individualised explanation, despite us detailing the introduction to each activity. If we give an example, there is a high chance that they will replicate the example to an extent. Hence, have tried to stop giving too detailed explanations except where absolutely necessary – this has worked, usually, and telling them to do ‘what they like and how they understand it’ results in some good work.
It’s better to tell them there are artists who have done things “like this,” giving inspiration by showing precedents to get their creative juices flowing. It is a bit of a Catch 22 as they sometimes replicate the examples/samples shown.