elephant progress

The Elephants’ projects are coming along! Oscar, Rhone, and Lukas are working on a telescope, and Norabelle has been coming a long way on her bust sculpture.

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a few things

Last week at Brightworks, a few simple but amazing things made the non-Brightworks crew pleased to be here:

A parabolic mirror came together.

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Researchers reflected on and read their essays.

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The lost-and-found became an art installation on the cork floor (before being bundled up and donated).

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Moms were appreciated.

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Grace’s art installation opened at the Southern Exposure art gallery.

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Students made succulent holders.

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Careful painting in the art studio.

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A face was plastered for a mask.

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Hair was braided.

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…among other sweet simple moments at our little school.

self-portrait analysis

During the Mirrors arc, the Hawks worked on essays describing and analyzing the self portraits done by several different artists: Frida Kahlo, Vincent van Gogh, Romaine Brooks, Gwen John, and Norman Rockwell. They have all finished their hard work on these essays – and they’re amazing! I wanted to share a few excerpts from their essays along with the portraits they chose to write about.

In Gwen John’s Self Portrait she paints herself as a woman of society. She is wearing red a checkered shirt and she has a black shawl on. Her facial expression seems stern. Gwen John might be wearing fancy clothes but she is not happy.
– Aurora

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Norman Rockwell uses posters to express how he changes as artist. First he is laying down then he is arched and in the middle he is sitting straight because that was when he had the most work. Norman Rockwell painted so many paintings and this painting is the diagram of his life.
– Quinn

His drawing doesn’t have as much detail because he didn’t add his glasses or a body. The image shows the way he truly is and the his drawing is a interpretation of himself and his passion.
Norman Rockwell in triple-self portrait depicts his passion for painting by capturing his process. He told stories with his painting showing regular day life, but in triple self-portrait he shows what it is to by an artist.
– Bruno

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In all of Frida’s portraits her face is very serious but she uses vibrant colors. She uses a lot of red and orange because they are love colors. There is a lot of white because it’s a peaceful color and it brings attention to the note she made. All the color bring out the joy that used to fill her and takes away some of the depression inside of her
– Lucy

frida kahlo self portrait

In Romaine Brooks’s time women wore frilly dresses and skirts when men were black suits. Women got judged if they wore men’s clothes. Romaine Brooks was expressing herself through her clothing.
Brooks is hiding herself by using very dark colors and hiding her eyes in a mysterious way. The black of her suit brings out the pale skin but the hat is shading her eyes in a way that says she doesn’t want to come out of the hiding spot that she found.
– Clementine

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Vincent Van Gogh might not have been the best person but he was a great painter. He was really angry but he did a new type of painting and thats a big part about why I like him. What I like about him is that he had a unique way of painting and uses color. In his last self portrait he uses line and color to express his feelings.
– Ben

Van Gogh Self-Portrait

Gwen Johns facial expretion and the way she looks at you makes you think she’s brave to look at you, but also small, little and sad. In the time when Gwen John was painting women rarely looked at you in portraits. It was almost a chalinge to look at you but in all her paintings Gwen John always looks at you. When Gwen John looks at me it makes me feel sad for her.
– Natasha

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Frida Kahlo used color to symbolize sadness from heart break. In the two Fridas Diego did not love the un colorful lonely Frida on the left whose heart is not whole, he loved the happy, colorful Frida whose heart is whole. She shows that with color. The fact that there are two Fridas shows how you can feel more than two feelings at the same time.
– Lola

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megaband departs!

The Megaband, along with Christie, Phillip, and Jaqi, are gone for a whole week at the Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert. So exciting! The collaborators have planned an incredible line-up of experiences, from excursions with the National Park Association and star gazing with astronomers, to time working on the Mirrors arc projects and visiting the Integatron to hear its unique sounds. There have been mirrors art installations popping up all over the desert and they will be visiting them to see their unique take on the mysterious and beautiful landscape that is Joshua Tree. Though it is a no-tech trip, we got this glimpse of them yesterday via Ellen’s phone:

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We can’t wait to hear updates and stories of their adventures, and I hope to post as much as I can! Though these San Francisco natives assured me that they would melt in the heat, I can’t imagine that they’re having anything but an incredible time. We wish we were all there!

high school projects

Although I don’t have pictures of them, I wanted to give an update on the work that the six Brightworks high school students have been doing this arc. Last week, they went with Ellen to see the documentary Finding Vivian Maier, about the recent discovery of a prolific photographer who took thousands of photographs throughout the 1940s to 60s while working as a nanny. In writing and philosophy classes they have been exploring what it means to have a self and the ways in which people express that self, the role of the artist in art, and the art of self portraiture, so exploring Maier’s mysterious past and ephemera made the perfect connection.

They have all chosen various arts-related projects for this Expression phase.

Grace is making a video montage in the spirit of Christian Marclay’s 24-hour movie The Clock, but her version will be a compilation of clips from movies of characters looking in mirrors.

Tytus has been planning an epic origin of a superhero comic, with a fight scene interlaced with exposition.

Isaac is composing a new album for the Mirrors arc and just learned how to play a saw, which sounds like a scratchy recording on a record player.

Ben is making a detailed spray painted self portrait, made of the puzzle pieces of his front and back.

Max is planning a new short film based on the psychological impacts of sitting in front of a mirror – this time in the form of a character who has to sit in a blank room for months with only a mirror for company.

Madison has been working on portraying her face in different styles and with several media in preparation for a series of self-portraits based on the work of Vincent van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, and Andy Warhol.

It’s been great to see these older kids take the reins on their projects and watch them make progress independently, with little guidance and directions from their collaborators! We’re excited to see where their ideas take them and what they create by the end of the Expression phase of Mirrors.

solar concentrators

The Hawks have started working on their group Expression project for Mirrors: making solar marshmallow roasters. Inspired by their work from before spring break, each Hawk is taking a different approach to the solar concentrator challenge. Mackenzie reports that she and the Hawks are determined not to make the Expression project a competition between each student, but rather an opportunity to share ideas openly, credit each other’s work, and build on each other’s successes and failures. Already they have started forming partnerships and alliances between themselves as their ideas and strategies begin to line up!

Aurora and Natasha were inspired by the Archimedes Death Ray episode of Mythbusters and spun Plaster of Paris to make a parabolic shape for their solar concentrator.

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They learned that a parabola is a slice of a cone that goes on into infinity, which makes it good for gathering light! After learning that very little sticks to Plaster of Paris, they settled on covering their parabola with reflective tape and created a clear focal point.

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Now they have to figure out if their parabola is big enough to generate enough heat to roast a marshmallow.

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Bruno also made a parabolic Plaster of Paris mold, but covered his with mirror tiles instead of reflective tape.

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He was inspired by the disco ball hanging above the cork floor and resolved to make an inside-out disco ball for his solar concentrator.

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Mackenzie writes, “If you look into Bruno’s parabola and align your eye with the focal point, you will see a dozen of your own eyes looking back. This is how you know that all the mirrors are correctly placed to reflect light to the focal point.”

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Quinn experimented with several different conical reflective surfaces as well as the ideas of several of the other Hawks.

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He found an old satellite dish at home and covered it in reflective tape, then added mirror tiles to give it a boost in reflecting light and creating heat.

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Ben made several small iterations where he experimented with creating stronger and stronger focal points. He tried a light fixture lined with foil and a piece of U-shaped bucket lined with reflective tape. But none of the of the focal points were strong enough.

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Ultimately, he decided on a hanging piece of reflective material in a frame to create a large hanging parabola.

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Lola and Lucy would like to bake a pie in their solar concentrator. They found a Styrofoam container in storage and painted the outside black so that it will absorb more heat.

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They lined the box with foil and put a plexiglass cover on the open end. When they tested it the first time, it already reached 250 degrees!

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On Friday they took their first iterations outside to test them and found the hot spots for each. They will continue with next iterations this week!