Light, Shapes and Shadows | Ardina Greco

During the summer months I co-teach with my husband Mark in different environments. My next few posts will give a sense of our collaborations.  In June, although not technically summer, our work routine shifts.  Our regular gigs end and the programs we teach often occur in new and beautiful places.  This is summer to me!  Just a few weeks ago, our performance group Jukebox Radio completed a residency at the Andy Warhol Preserve in Montauk, NY.

The weather for our residency was uncertain.  The forecast predicted rain but we hoped for none.  One day prior, the sky shifted; long clouds moved to reveal sunlight and dark clouds trembled with thunder and rain. Weather is not typically critical to teaching, but this program was planned to begin outside, at the Preserve, and then move inside to The Victor D’Amico Institute of Art – better known as the Art Barge.

If it rained our plan would shift.  Instead of meeting the first-graders outside we would meet them at school and adjust the Preserve experience. Over a fried fish dinner, we discussed a backup plan to prepare for this scenario and created a list of items to collect: Preserve photographs, shells, and rocks from the Fite House (our lodging).

Luckily, rain did not appear!  We met the students, teachers, and Paul from The Nature Conservatory at the Preserve and hiked the trail, our guitar and drawing materials in-hand.  At a clearing near the beach, we introduced ourselves, Jukebox Radio, and shared the day’s schedule.

To begin, we led the group to the beach and sat together.  Mark sang Through My Little Frame, a song he wrote to encourage close-looking.  As he performed students were encouraged to search for shapes through a frame created by their index finger and thumb.  Some students sat in one place and moved their frame while others moved their bodies and placed the shapes they found in their hands.  Students found different shapes: rocks, mermaid’s purses, driftwood, a tire, and deer bones.

Following the song, we drew.  Sketchbooks and pencils were dispersed; the group brainstormed ways to capture shapes on paper.  One student suggested that, “we look closely at the lines” and another offered that we, “place the object on the paper and trace.”  Diverse representations were produced, from simple line drawings to shaded forms.  We ended the morning at the trail clearing.  To transition into thinking about sculpture, we used our bodies to sculpt the shapes we had found on the beach.

The group reconvened at the Art Barge. As the students entered the barge, a shadow exhibit in the gallery surprised them. Two sculptural constructions inspired by shapes Mark and I had observed that morning had been placed behind a sheet bearing a projected image of the Preserve.

Fueled by the presentation, the students went to work on their own constructions.  Time flew by as they explored, combined, and formed the different materials in the studio.  Informed by their sketches, their sculptural constructions ranged from free standing, to hanging, to hand-held.  The day’s activities concluded with a shadow exhibition of the student’s work in the gallery.

Driving back to the city shortly after the program ended the storm clouds rolled in and it poured.  Throughout the morning the teachers and chaperones noticed a great break in the clouds directly overhead.  It was as if the rain had waited for us to finish, ensuring a brilliant day for everyone involved.

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