Sunday, February 24, 2013

Collage and Romare Beardon

I have been volunteering at Sofia's school in the Art Literacy Program. It has been an interesting and challenging experience.The program is set up for volunteers (like me) to present 6 different art lessons during the year. The same basic lesson, usually about a particular artist, and an art project are presented to all Beaverton K-6 classrooms. Some enthusiastic volunteers repeat the lesson for several different classrooms. Most of us work with only one classroom. I do my lessons for Sofia's class. The challenge, for me, has been tailoring the generic lesson for a Kindergarten classroom. It's all too easy to give them too much information and show too many slides, then they become so squirrely that the following art project is a chaotic mess! I gave my third lesson last week and I cut the slide part way back. I think it was better, but they finished the art project much more quickly than I thought they would. It is a balancing act—not unlike getting all the parts of a big dinner done at the same time.

The most recent lesson was about Romare Beardon, an artist I was only vaguely familiar with. I learned as much, or more, than the kids did. Beardon was a painter and collage artist in the early part of the 20th century. He moved from the south to New York and was part of the Harlem Renaissance. For the purposes of the lesson, we focused on his collage work, which was marvelous! Here is a little taste:

One Night Stand

Conjure Woman

The Pepper Jelly Lady

The art project that the kids did was a collage using paper and magazine photos and a photo of themselves. Some of them really got into it and had great ideas. Others, not so much. I am finding that there is a vast diversity of ability and maturity amongst 27 5-year-olds.

I loved Beardon's work and was struck by how strong it is. I think I have been looking at too many prissy, ephemeral "sketchbook" collages! I made another collage today.

Beardon's collages tell stories. I think I want to try that with the next collage.

The next lesson will be about the art of the South Pacific Islands—Oceania. It looks great and the project will be a mask, which I think the kids will really like.


  1. Strong like your red roofs. Now add some of your photographs in the mix and tell us a story. Can't wait to see it.

  2. hear, hear and prissy ephemeral "sketchbook" collages! Can't agree more...back to the art of collage. And no need to include photos...this is really striking, Terry, and very different from your other work...keep on going!