As I mentioned at the start of the week, Tuesday was our first day of the new Children's Art class. This class has been one of my dreams ever since I applied to Manna Project, which was about this time last year if I think about it. It's wild to think back on that time of life when Ecuador was still a far-away day dream.
After finishing up the last of their homework problems (and trying to fit a few pieces into the new puzzle Jocelyn's mom sent back with her), Dana, Eliah and I convinced them to help us push 4 big tables together into the middle of the Casa Barrial, maneuver the heavy benches around the edges, plug in my ipod and speakers, and find a seat.
As I see it, the main objectives of the Children's Art class is twofold: in the short term, I hope to provide the students with a creative outlet and to expand their artistic experiences from those of markers, stickers, and construction paper to collages, portraits, painter studies, poetry, splatter painting, and public art instillations. In the long term, I can only hope that the experiences they have in our 45 minutes together will inspire a shift in their way of thinking and approaching problems (be it homework or life related) that encourages independent thinking and a creative outlook, as opposed to the overwhelming status quo of copying and memorizing any and everything.
To that end, for our first lesson Seth loaned me his comprehensive anthology of poetry by Pablo Neruda. As we passed the two poems I had chosen (Ode to Criticism and IV from 100 Love Sonnets) around the table, everyone took a turn reading a stanza aloud. After brainstorming a list of images we found in each poem, we took the next 30 minutes to translate the words of the poem into our own crayon, colored-pencil and marker-rich images. And while there was a good deal of overlap (read: copying), there were also a few creative surprises Neruda himself would have been proud of.