Sticky Nugget #3

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This little sign is the third in a series on the wall in the Main Studio at Sticky Art Lab. This is one of our studio guidelines, and a very important message. It's something we have all heard before, but here in the studio we really mean it. Mistakes are good.

In fact, you are supposed to make mistakes. You are encouraged to explore your own design ideas, draw on the drawing board to make a plan, collect materials that you think might work, most of all, be open to learning as you go. Sometimes we will share skills to get you going in the right direction, sometimes we have workshops with specific outcomes in mind, but there is always the open ended part where you can experiment in your own style.

Once, with a group of kids who were developing a puppet show, one student said, "wait, wait, this is not working! Remember the other way? It worked better!" They all agreed, and reworked the scene. A mistake with friends is even more awesome than a one-person mistake! If it doesn't work one way, try another. Ask questions, learn another way, try it again. This is really a good lesson for the rest of your life, and good to practice it when you can.

Come on in and make some mistakes. It might lead to a break through, an a-ha moment, a revelation, a revolution!

from Rachel

Awesome Art Classes

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Some pretty great things go on here. You might say Awesome. Kids say that, and some grown-ups have said that, too. What is it about choosing your own art adventure that is so appealing?

I think it's because learning is so subjective. We tend to hear what appeals to us. We remember what we want to remember, not always in the right order, not always with the most clarity. We might remember what gives us joy, what makes us sad, what lifts us up, what makes us feel connected. We are built by experiences. We are the sum of all of the parts of our lives, and it affects how we see the world, and how we learn new things. This makes us each so different! So, how do we build an art class for all these kinds of learners and seers and doers?

Artistic Freedom. We want to supply you with some great materials and a pointing in the right direction, and boom! You're off. Bring all your memories, all your sad stories, all your challenging moments, all your joys and frustrations, your mistakes, your secrets, your dreams, your goals, your life. Let them work together to create what you need to create.

Your life experience is safe here.
 

from Rachel

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Sticky Day Report

On March 18, Sticky celebrated its 2nd annual Sticky Day.

The day is designed and built by the kids in the After School Program, ages 6-12, with support from studio facilitators. In planning, we ask the kids, "What do you love about Sticky?" - "How can you share it with the community around us?" Their big idea since the beginning is that they can create straight from their imaginations ("We can do whatever we want!"); The limits being that they have to try to use what is in the studio, and they can't spend too much money. The kids invite their families and friends, and the place fills up quickly. The theme this year? An Undersea Carnival, plus an alien and a giant panda, of course.

The other thing that happened since the beginning is that somehow the kids are under the spell of needing to build giant animal-like sculptures that magically spew sweets or treats after being prompted by a question from the crowd. "Oh, panda, I am so hungry..." or a riddle, or a song. The treats come out of mouths- the giant panda gives homemade cookies; or spouts- the giant narwhal spews freshly popped popcorn through a paper roll tube. It is a sight to behold, and a wonder for the families. The kids are really proud.

The whole studio space from entrance to back courtyard is decorated for the event. Hand built mermaids swing from wires, a treasure chest full of creations, small cardboard crabs scuttle around by a stick, and scuba gear made of plastic packaging sits in a basket, which you are required to wear while swishing through the space. Next a cave of wonder, and an umbrella jellyfish, all with the lights down low and twinkles hanging from above.

The creativity and pride of the children is oozing out of every carnival stop, and the visitors scoot excitedly from place to place, gathering their treats and gasping with wonder. The energy is contagious. Outside, they can make their own lemonade and build a snack shack out of crackers and cream cheese. They have created a wonderland for themselves and their families, built with recycled and reused materials, with tape, with glue, with sand, with cardboard, with paint, with friends, with laughter. It is a piece of magic, out of the creative minds of children so often sabotaged by passive entertainment and brightly lit screens.

Over the year, they have learned about different reuse and natural materials, different tools and techniques, the properties of things, how things move, and go together. With that information they are allowed to design and build. They can "do what they want." They are allowed time to investigate. They make mistakes and find their own way of doing things. They develop their own styles, and also a collective way of working. They create for others to share in their joy.

I love THAT about Sticky. Can't wait to see what they come up with next year.

from Rachel

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Inspiring People

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I built Sticky, certainly, for the user -- the families, the young kids, the youth, the adults -- who walks in and is treated to a wide variety of materials and tools, the space to use them, and facilitators to support them. And they do the most amazing things! With a little scrap wood and some moss and pine cones, a fairy domain hatches. With some paint and a stencil and an old cork square, a work of art for grandma's kitchen. I am constantly delighted by the creativity!

But I also built Sticky to grow a crew. I am not saying I knew how to do this, I just knew I couldn't do it myself. And in the most serendipitous of fashions, they kept walking in the door. The work and creativity drew them in, and the community and purpose held them here, and I am equally delighted by their creativity!

The facilitators and teachers to do their own work. They bring their wealth of experience and talent and skill to the table, each with their own style, each with their own challenges, each learning in collaboration. They are making a difference with this scrappy work -- whose message of process-over-product is not always obvious or easy to explain. They are making a difference in the expressive lives of those who walk in the door.

These are inspiring people. I thank my lucky stars for each and every one of them.

 

Pictured: Louise, Suzi, Terri, Gemma, Nadya

Sticky Nugget #2

This little sign is the second in a series on the wall in the Main Studio at Sticky Art Lab. This is one of our studio guidelines, and a very important message. When we have a discussion around this topic, ideas abound. Respect encompasses many areas of studio work.

It helps to talk about Respect when working in a studio together. We all have to be able to work here, so keep your workspace tidy and not too spread out. Take care of the furniture and materials. Put away the things you are not using. Keep any comments positive so we can stay focused on what is working or take a pause if we should make changes.

It helps also when thinking about your own work. Respect your process, respect your path. You have to experiment to know your next step! One thing works, the next thing doesn't. This is good practice for life. Respect yourself and trust that this work is moving you forward in some way.

One young student said, "If you don't have respect, you don't have much."

Goo Gaws!

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What are goo gaws? Around here it means all the add-on stuff, after the first layer of paint or collage, you put on the goo gaws, the cool three dimensional items. We have a few little bins full of cast offs, leftovers, weird small bits that will make the perfect finishing off of your masterpiece.

If you have broken toys, odd puzzle pieces, sea shells from the sea shore like Sally, costume jewelry, beads, lost game pieces, save them in a beautiful storage jar or two. Display them on your shelf as art! Then when you really need a goo gaw, you'll have a place to find one.

Sticky Nugget #1:

This little sign is the first in a series on the wall in the Main Studio at Sticky Art Lab. This is one of our studio guidelines, and a very important message. One fourth grader said, "If you don't love yourself, you won't be able to create." Well put.

We like to say Love Yourself through the whole creative process. There are days when you can't think of anything to do. Or days when you just don't feel like it. Or days of frustrating missteps, or lots of mistakes. Especially on those days of big learning, and really every day, we have to try to love ourselves.

There are also days of extreme joy and wild abandon, and laughing and uncontrollable singing out loud. Love yourself on those days, too, because you want to make those moments last. Put it in your pocket for later. Enjoy it. Reach out those big arms and wrap them around yourself and squeeze.

Doesn't that feel good?

A Meditative Warmth

This is a blog for Sticky Art Lab. Four years. Just thinking about it so far, how it all started and how far it has come. Four years ago, we opened the door with two tables and a few stools. Some paint and easels, markers and donated paper. Day after day, even today, we still hope it will work, we hope the people will come. And they do. Then they don't. And they do again, until it feels a little more like a community. Friends meet friends. People meet people for the first time. Something for kids, something for grown ups, for teens, for grandparents, aunts and uncles. Lots of people visit without any idea of what it might be. Others think they had it figured out. But maybe this happened: they were surprised. In some small way, surprised. By how small it was, how fun it was, how overwhelmed they were by too many amazing materials, how much they learned by just having the freedom to try something new. Our projects are not always perfect looking, in fact sometimes quite scrappy, but a good hour went by and all the synapses in their brains were firing for taking a risk and thinking outside of the box. When do we get a chance to do that? Some come back the next day. Some never come back, that was enough excitement. But maybe this happened: they left with a renewed appreciation for organized chaos. Or, they left with a little bit of warmth to be in a place where so many good things have happened, where they felt welcome no matter what, where so many hands have come together to make and build. Albeit, very sticky hands.

The space has a kitchen sort of area, at the back, a corner that couldn't become anything else. That's where the crew hangs out. One makes a cup of tea for the other. Snacks are prepared, lessons are written while leaning on the counter, then dashing out to the stack of materials. "Don't we have that mylar stuff?" "We could make it with onion bags!" "What is this?" And it's our job to put things out for the folks that come to tinker. We put two things next to each other as a suggestion of what can go together. We call it suggestive proximity, which sounds like you say it with a wink, but it means we want the builder to have the aha moment. We build the project and lay out the studio to empower the user. (Yeah, I know it's good, you can use it). It's how we should be learning, kids and adults, by playing, by exploring. And maybe this will happen: We might let go of needing to be the expert of everything. We might learn that we don't have all the answers and that it is valuable to make a mistake and be able to work through it. We might learn to work together and ask questions of our neighbors, pitch an idea, feel connected and belong.

After four years, we are here still. We hope it will work. We are always looking for new things to do. New ways to think. New ways to see things. We like cardboard a lot. It's all over the place and it's very useful. Go out and grab some, and challenge yourself to make a city with little holes cut out for windows, make a costume with arm bands and a helmet, make a shelter, put a blanket in it and stay warm. A robot, a spaceship. A dollhouse, a sculpture. Make something without thinking about it too much. You might be surprised at what happens. You might learn something new.

 

-from Rachel