declarations

Friday, day 14, the first last day of the Exploration phase of our very first arc. These first three weeks have flown by faster than Superman and a speeding bullet.

I think we were all a little nervous about how the transition between Exploration and Expression would go, but to our surprise and delight, the kids have taken to creating their own projects with enthusiasm. They started discussing them in their bands, then let their creativity fly as they composed written declarations of their proposed projects.

declarations

declarations

declarations

declarations

declarations

The collaboration began without any prompting.

declarations

declarations

declarations

The bands bonded after snack and came up with their own names:

the Ssalson Raptors (forgive my spelling, Raptors, and correct me if I’m wrong)

declarations

declarations

the Rubber Band, (and I forgot the secret name; let’s fix this Monday – if it’s something to share with the world, that is), who had their meeting at the very grown-up Coffee Bar on the corner

declarations

declarations

and the Flying Fish, with their own hooting call to contact each other across the room.

declarations

After a break at the park, the kids returned to work on their murals, declarations, and pipe system.

declarations

declarations

declarations

Josh introduced contaminants to the water pipe system and suggested the kids create a filtration system that would keep out sludge – aka glitter.

declarations

declarations

declarations

They couldn’t figure out a good way to get the water clear again after dye had been added to clear water, but they were able to filter out the glitter. Not too shabby.

declarations

Success! Exploration has closed… but now the creative minds of our incredible Brightworks kids will start moving and thinking and making in the next three weeks of Expression. Keep an eye on the blog… you’ll most definitely see some pretty amazing things come up soon.

muraling

I can’t lie, when I proposed the idea of a Brightworks mural project, visions of a spectacular and thematically cohesive art project danced in my brain. I imagined a single scene spanning the four doors of our canvas that said something about who we are as a school or what we have learned about cities.

We set the day up perfectly to this end: a tour of the Mission’s murals with Precita Eyes, a story about communicating through visual arts, and a group discussion of what values we have in common. But when the afternoon came and we split into groups to plan and prepare the mural, all of the energy that we as collaborators had built fizzled. No one wanted to paint a single image nor could they agree on one theme and belaboring the point was just plain boring. I had a moment of disappointment because I had seen the single scene/themed mural as an opportunity for the kids to really work collaboratively.

But the minute I let go of my vision of the mural and the paint brushes hit the paint, something really magical started happening. Small groups of kids started taking ownership of different panels and artistic conflicts began to bubble up. Some of the older students felt very strongly about their visions and a lot of the younger ones just wanted to paint something. There were heated conversations over who could paint what where. The moment was ripe for talking about the basics of collaboration, namely communication and compromise.

When we revisited the mural today I overheard tons of constructive problem solving conversations. Kids were asking permission to paint over drawings that other kids had done. When someone was not okay with where others were painting, they offered better alternatives. The beautiful thing about the mural that the kids are creating now is that it is a real and evolving piece of artwork about cooperation and communication.

sewers, murals, pipes

Today sewer expert Greg Braswell from the San Francisco Department of Public Works talked to the kids about where water goes in San Francisco. They drew a diagram:

sewers

sewers and murals

They used those ideas to create a sewer system of their own.

sewers and murals

sewers and murals

sewers and murals

sewers and murals

Mural painting continued.

sewers and murals

sewers and murals

sewers and murals

sewers and murals

As did the Google SketchUp experimenting.

sewers and murals

Mix in a little paper art and frivolity and you’ve got a Brightworks day!

sewers and murals

sewers and murals

sewers and murals

sewers and murals

sewers and murals

murals

A warm September day in the Mission means nothing less for Brightworks than a tour of the Mission, mural-style! The kids walked down to Precita Eyes on 24th Street to visit some incredible murals, led by Jorge, that have made the Mission a beautifully colorful place.

Mural Day

Mural Day

Mural Day

Mural Day

Mural Day

Mural Day

Mural Day

Mural Day

A quick walk to the park.

Mural Day

Mural Day

A swing!

Mural Day

Mural Day

And water! Most of the kids came back to school soaked to the bone.

Mural Day

Mural Day

Mural Day

The walk back to Brightworks.

Mural Day

Mural Day

Mural Day

Putting things in cubbies…

Mural Day

After lunch, the kids worked on their own mural projects: stencils with spray paint…

Mural Day

Mural Day

Mural Day

Mural Day

Mural Day

…and designing four murals on old doors.

Mural Day

Mural Day

Mural Day

Completed murals in the works!