|"A's" skateboard graphic|
“A” started making stencils in art last year. He is extraordinarily good at it. He can take a printout and translate it into a stencil, deftly cutting away parts with an Xacto blade. He can make a “positive” image, or reverse the process and create a “negative” image. Fast too.
One day I found this after class:
I asked “A” about it and he told me that his friend started to make a stencil of his name, but only got as far at the “M” when he gave up. “So I finished it for him.” Guerrilla art stencil-style?
The other day before school I found a big back stashed in the art studio – it was “A's” Skateboard and helmet – ready to receive a stencil design later in the day. This is a concrete example of an artist thinking about and planning for art outside of class.
One of the strengths of the learner-directed studio is just that: a student can rely on the stability of the studio and can therefor plan their next project knowing what materials and tools will be available to them during class. This is a stark contrast to the way I used to teach, which I sometimes think of as an “art ambush.” In an art ambush, the student doesn't know what the teacher has planned for the day, and arrives ready to be told the assignment. The teacher expects the student to start right in on the project, without the benefit of incubation. In this construct, students often come through the door asking “what are we doing today?”
In our choice-based art studio, the question I hear instead is: “Can we get right to work?”