A couple of weeks ago, I spent a few hours with twelve middle school students at Woolwich Central School in Woolwich, Maine. They are art students who are often found in the classroom of Laura Devin, the Maine Art Educator of the Year for 2017.
This all came about by my wanting to do something to address a sense of helplessness that seems to prevail in the world today. Often I find myself saying, “If each person did just one thing that made the world better, we’d be doing just fine”. (Actually, I sound like my grandmother who was always doing “good works” until she died at the age of 92.) I mentioned this to my friend, Courtney, a third grade teacher at the Woolwich School and she immediately said that she had an idea. She talked to Laura and Laura contacted me and…voilà…we were set.
More than the usual keep-them-busy approach to teaching that is often followed with four hundred kindergarten through eighth grade students a week, Laura actually teaches concepts and skills. And the more advanced students can reach as far as they want with her full support. I showed them my way of drawing with charcoal on gessoed paper and also the sgraffito method of drawing on leather hard porcelain. They immediately set to work, choosing subjects from the objects that Laura has in abundance on the still life table, where she was working, or using an object of their own.
What struck me about the drawings, nine of which are shown here, is the individuality shown by each person and also the willingness to get in there and wipe and smudge and spray the surface of their drawings. I would love to check in with these twelve- and thirteen-year-olds in five years and see what they are doing. They have the skill and drive at this point to be doing great things.