Images by Judy Shire

Paper Art

FTLComm - LaRonge - Thursday, April 17, 2003

The process of both learning the skills to be an artist, and to understand the creative magic involved, is something that teachers and the educational system has been tackling for a very long time. In most cases the spark comes from a gifted teacher, often one who teachers by example. I have been involved in education for more than three decades and seen a huge variety of approaches to teaching art in the school setting.

Ultimately there is probably no other subject in our school system as important, yet art is the one that administration and governance consider with the least respect. When things are tight in a budget, it is art and music that are first to go and yet

those two subjects are the most important in the school curriculum. The problem with both is the difficulty so many people have in coming to terms with just what is the purpose of such study.

The function of art education and certainly of
music, is to provide the individual with the prerequisites of learning all things. In music, we learn order and mathematical balance, and in art we learn to seek the novel, the different and push the limits. In both cases, the creative process is what it is all about, and with creativity, the problems presented to us, in all fields of endeavour, are more easily surmounted as the creative individual will always seek alternatives.

Chris Lee of Churchill's high school in LaRonge has developed what amounts to a formula for developing both the skills a student needs to create works of art, but also the vehicles to guide the individual through the process. At each level, from junior high to the end of grade twelve, he has built into the learning process, experiences with graphics, colour, hand eye, art appreciation and most importantly, three dimensional art. That helps the students feel what they are seeing. Earlier this year we showed you this process with his
penguin project with his grade seven classes. These

pictures on this page show the work of the grade elevens who move to full size real life and popular culture icons using paper mache.

His students explore the reality of hands on work, they plan and sketch their project, then create the work, give it a paint job and have it displayed in the library to make a statement on their behalf and give each student in the course a feeling of satisfaction. Few, if any, students taking this course are unable to create a positive and meaningful project, one that gives them a feeling of improved

self esteem, but also moves them into the realm of the artist, being able to use their creation to make a statement.

From these examples and this is only one class in the school year shown, we can see the influence of the cartoon world, which of course is a mere extension of the real world projected into characters. With these objects, the imaginary creatures are transformed from the screen to reality, as objects that with their gestures, can

make a statement, tell a story, or just be there.

There is a transcendence, a reverse transcendence from unreality to reality and perhaps even back again. But most certainly, each student learns to see differently, learns to visualise and feel as much as see, what is around them, and inside their head.

If ever there was an argument for the importance of art in the schooling of every child, than this is precisely what we need in the people to which we will entrust our world. The connection between what is, what can be and what is practically achievable is now something the student has done and

can take that experience with them into science, math, language study and commerce. Unlike the perfunctory skills of algebra, or learning the names of biological phyla, creativity, just like touch typing, is there in the individual's present, to be used and worked into every experience with which they are confronted.

It is more than symbolic that we have ET at the top and the bottom of this page, reaching for the beyond is well within the reach of those who have learned to tap into their creativity.

Timothy W. Shire



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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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