art as dialog

To sum up the past week in a single word, that word is PUPPETS!  Puppets continue to take over the studio.  The process of puppet making in the studio is teaching me a great deal about art as dialog.  We, as adults and educators, are prone to think of dialog in terms of verbal communication but young children have a broader definition.  I would even suggest that they have a naturally artistic one.  As I watch them creating, I notice that they are in a constant wordless conversation with their environment, with one another, with the media, materials and adults.  Their work is the record.  I watch as one child chooses a patterned fabric and another responds, often without even knowing it.  One child makes a leap from puppets to making a stuffed character and soon others are responding and creating their own sewn characters.As a Montessori teacher I know the importance of a carefully prepared environment, believing that the environment is the primary teacher and my job is one of providing a bridge rather than acting as resident expert.  As an artist, I know that everything informs an artists work.  If I place a weathered branch near where I am painting, somehow and often without my intention, that shape or form or color will be reflected in my work.  It is an unconscious conversation every one of us has with our environment.  An artist makes this dialog tangible and visible.

I don’t know where the puppet “conversation” will lead.  I am not dictating the terms or the vocabulary.  I am a listening ear and responding to what is heard through an ever shifting environment.As adults in the studio, we are also responding to the interests of the children, through puppet productions, provocations and a brand new puppet theater, designed by Missy Brown, a mom from 440PM and built by three dads, Ryan Dunn, Malcolm Williams and Travis Williams.

Stay tuned for more.

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