The Simple Things | Ardina Greco

Wrapping paper, water bottles, wood
Boxes, bags, and straws
Scissors and string
We can take recycled things
We can take pictures
And turn them into creatures
We can take trash
And turn it into sculptures
What is that?
What is that?

This prose, the collaboratively generated mantra of Jukebox Radio’s week long residency at the New Children’s Museum of Art in San Diego, opened Friday’s final performance.  It completely captured the young artists’ experiences throughout the week and readied the audience for a show filled with sculptural combinations, surprising collages, and kooky shadow constructions.

There is much I could share in this post, it was a busy week and we had a great time, but one instance stands out that I’d like to share here.  During lunch on Thursday Mark and I talked through the afternoon plan while cleaning up materials from the morning session.  Originally we scheduled a museum visit to look at a work on view and we planned to create puppets in the classroom.  However due to the pace of the activities earlier in the week the students had already made puppets, and after a morning of performance rehearsal we knew the students needed an active making activity rather than a museum visit.

Minutes before the students walked in from lunch, Mark said, “How about the students make something to wear during the performance?” We briefly talked about the possibilities and how we might introduce the experience. The popular term “Trash Fashion” came to mind and we committed to the idea.  Quickly, we gathered the left over recyclable materials we had into a pile on the floor and we got to work creating our own “Trash Fashions” to wear as a surprise to the students for when they returned.

The students reacted immediately upon returning to the classroom.  They laughed. They questioned us about our fashions and asked with enthusiasm, “Are we going to make things to wear too?” After a brief question and answer session, the students went straight to work, constructing hats, armor, jet packs, bracelets, guitars, masks, and glasses. They worked straight for ninety minutes, aiding each other to achieve the right fashion fits.

With thirty minutes left, Mark and I stretched out and adhered a single long line of masking tape to the floor and, in an instant, students proceeded to ham-it-up on the catwalk.  Mark grabbed his guitar and accompanied the models’ walk with music.

After leaving the museum that day, Mark and I talked about the experience.  We felt that our involvement and the act of surprising the students with our fashions enhanced participation.  The students were amused and interested without us having to introduce the lesson; they wanted to know how we made our fashions and they wanted to make their own fashions.  Another transformative moment occurred when we taped out the catwalk.  A single line adhered to the floor completely activated the students. Their behavior was instantly dramatic, exaggerated, and playful. Even simple things can inspire profound motivation.

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