Tag Archives: gouache

Snakes and Lilies

Last year I assigned a grade twelve art class a design-a-tattoo warm-up assignment, partly with the intention of having the students investigate the symbolism and imagery associated with our names, birthdays, and birth places

My origins are associated with imagery that is both elegant and venomous. What does that say about me? (Eek.)

SuzannaWrightLilySnake

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Um, ya got something…

The blueberry smoothie was not the best idea. SuzannaWrightBlueberries

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It Goes With Everything

SuzannaWrightCroissants

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May 5, 2014 · 3:53 pm

Suits

Up until recently I spent a few hours each day looking out of bus windows.

 

SuzannaWrightRainSuits

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Stop Moment #2: The Drama Students Are Singing in the Bathroom Again

“We have the whole building to ourselves.”
“Can we perform in the hall?”
“Or maybe in the study room? Some of us could stand on the chairs and tables.”
“Yeah! But we can’t turn off the lights in there and we’re supposed to perform in darkness.”
“How about the bathroom?”
“Let’s do it.”

“Alright everyone,” we announce to our audience, the other half of the class, “We’re going on a field trip. Follow us.”

We quickly place ourselves one-a-stall and close the doors.
A drone begins a few stalls over.
A whooshing rhythm joins in.
Our individual sounds build as someone experiments with stomping on the floor. Another classmate hits the wall. I feel inspired to shake my door.
Without centralized direction or visual cues, we listen for our times to add or subtract sound, and slowly, our composition comes to an agreed resolution.

We are fortunate that this kind of activity is encouraged. Because it is the norm, the stakes are lowered.

Although we come to class as artists and educators who are mostly predisposed to practicing outside of the box, we create this environment together.
As Fels and Belliveau write in Exploring Curriculum: Performative Inquiry, Role Drama, and Learning,”The kind of curricular experiences you create with your students reveal your values, who you are as an educator, and how you believe students best learn.”1
Because our professors have modeled vulnerability, we have made ourselves vulnerable.
Because our professors have modeled playfulness, we have space to be playful.
Because I feel trusted, I can trust others.

In this compassionate community of learners, I feel safe and I feel free.
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1Lynn Fels and George Belliveau, Exploring Curriculum: Performative Inquiry, Role Drama, and Learning (Vancouver: Pacific Educational Press, 2008), 40.

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Stop Moment #1: Witnessing What’s Best

Presently in my program at Simon Fraser University, we are investigating “stop moments”. As Dr.Lynn Fels explains, “These stops are action-sites of learning which, in turn, inform our pedagogical practices and/or ways of being in the world.”1

Over the coming weeks, I will share my “stop moment” short stories and illustrations here. I have changed the names of students.

SuzannaWrightPostcard1

Kyle’s red hair bounces on his head as he marches around the room with a homemade stir-stick-and-paper flag that reads, “Outdoors!”

It’s a wet Friday afternoon and cabin fever is spreading quickly in the grade 4 classroom.“Yes,” I agree, “let’s get some fresh air and have some free time outside.”

I open the door and the students bolt in every direction. I am happy to observe their self-initiated games on the playgrounds, fields and courts. But I am a new substitute teacher, and I often feel self-conscious under the gaze of other teachers and administrators.

Some boys playing on the basketball court are too far away for me to properly see them, so I ask a student to retrieve them. All but two come back.

“Why are Justin and Daren still over there? Are they purposely ignoring me?” I ask Mark, one of the boys who returned.

“No, it’s just that Justin needs to cool down, and it’s better if one friend can stay with him. Daren is going to make sure he’s okay.”

I watch Justin kicking the basketball around, and Daren calmly walking behind him. Mark’s comment reminds me to be a more sensitive witness to the relationship dynamics already present among students and to decentralize power by trusting that students often know what course of care is best for themselves and for each other.

1 Fels, Lynn. “Coming into Presence: The Unfolding of a Moment.” Journal of Educational Controversy 5, no. 1. Accessed January 17, 2014. http://www.wce.wwu.edu/resources/cep/ejournal/v005n001/a020.shtml.

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Warming Up to Sensation

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As we come together in our warm up, our bodies negotiate the spaces between each other. We twist and twirl like slow graceful maggots.

***

The more partner dancing I do, the more I am both desensitized and sensitized to touch. “Tension masks sensation,” say the instructors at EDAM studio where I have begun practicing contact improvisation.

When I started dancing, I was more aware of who I was touching and I felt self-conscious. I was still stuck in a world where one’s contact with strangers is limited to handshakes. I did not know my body and I distrusted it. In a way, I was fearful of my body and the bodies of others. In a tense body, communication is halted, creativity is stifled, and knowing is concealed. When I can let go of the tension, I am aware of my body as a valuable place of knowing. I can more freely play and create. Awakened connection springs unexpectedly.

Every week we begin our contact improvisation practice with a floor warm-up. As I massage and reach and push my body into the ground, I become more aware of the tension that has built up from hunching my shoulders, from holding my jaw and from tightening my chest. I feel myself moving into motions and positions that I didn’t know I could do. It feels wonderful. When I live with bodily tension each day, what kinds of sensations am I missing?  What kinds of ways of knowing am I blocking?

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