The exhibit is called Susan Point: Spindle Whorl and I knew absolutely nothing about spindle whorls prior to this introduction. I was floored to learn during a power point by Susan Point's son that one of Point's designs was based off a whorl over 9,000 years old! I thought I heard that wrong to be honest and actually had to ask him again once the presentation was over to make sure I wasn't mistaken. Like Susan Point, I too am now fascinated with spindle whorls and felt an immediate connection with her passion with the natural world.
So much so that I immediately began to explore ways to introduce all of this new information into the studio classes. While I am sure this will not be the last project inspired by Susan Point's artwork, it was the first. I showed the elementary students some of the beautiful contemporary Coast Salish designs Susan Point has created inspired by the whorls. They are amazing examples of how to design in the round, use positive and negative space and repetition in design. For this project, I had the students focus on repetition and designing in the round.
I talked to them about Point's interest in the environment and how she feels that all of us are interconnected. I asked them to think about something in the natural world they felt a connection too, be it an animal or a cause they felt was important to them.
Each child then created a line drawing and figured out how to repeat it in the round using an ink pen. They then added watercolor to the work they had drawn on a heavy watercolor paper.
A couple of students got a little stuck on coming up with a subject matter to draw and so I suggested maybe just coming up with an interesting line design instead.
I have seen spinning tops created online by simply placing a penny through a slit cut in the middle of the paper and they work perfectly. (I tried it) However I wanted the students to have something that lasted more long term and so we used wooden beads to create their tops.
salmon, 7 year old
One bead went underneath, then the paper was placed on top and another bead with a skewer was placed on top of that to complete the top. I adhered it all together for long term place with a bit of hot glue placed in the bead holes.
horses, 6 year old
skulls and fire, 7 year old
As you can see, I give the students complete freedom in the end on what they want to draw. I strongly believe any artist should feel a connection to their art and what would be the point of spending any time creating something you are not enjoying? Hence skulls and fire.
leopards, 8 year old
foxes, 8 year old
9 year old
7 year old
Then the fun began as the kids had a great time playing with their tops until the parents arrived.
But the best part was having me take slo-mo videos for them to watch. Everyone wanted one!
This was a very successful afternoon in my books based on the joy this project brought from beginning to end. In fact it became apparent very quickly to me that this was something all the classes would enjoy, preschool to teens. The preteen class is already begging to do something similar next week.
Me? I am already looking forward to creating a project focused more on the Coast Salish design elements to inspire original creations by the students. If you live in the Vancouver area, I highly recommend stopping by the Vancouver Art Gallery and seeing this exhibit. Susan Point is a prolific artist working in a wide variety of mediums with a personal story just as inspiring as her work.
I think each and every child in the elementary class would agree after last week's class.