From: Drew Brown
Recently, the Sweet Apple Art Club and I ventured to the Cowgirl Studio in downtown Roswell, Georgia tomeet clay artist Jette Binder. My philosophy is that art students need to experience the world around them by learning outside the classroom. Engaging in experiential learning together also provides us with common experiences sparking interesting conversations and opportunity for reflection. Jette Binder happens to be the mom one of my third graders, and she welcomed us with warm hospitality.
The students were absolutely engaged with Jette’s explanation of her hand-building and glazing methods. They listened and watched intently while she showed various tools and items she uses for molds and slumping. She explained how she rubs and layers her glazes to create “weathered” surface designs. The students had just finished clay pieces at school where they melted glass pebbles into heart shapes, so they were thrilled to see that Jette also uses the same technique. Not only were the students exposed to Jette’s workspace, they were able to peruse her retail space and meet a metalsmith who shares the studio.
Jette invited each child to create a clay piece and take home a bit of clay to use later. (That was really special!) Jette provided skewers for students who wanted to create a piece to embellish a garden or potted pot. With an open-ended invitation and no formulaic directions, my fifth graders made a variety of personal creations. It was wonderful to see the kids meld prior experience with inspiration from Jette, while they played and created in new ways.
I love to introduce my students to real artists at work. Seeing an artist in their workspace helps us make connections about how artwork is created, where it is made, how artists manage their tools and materials, and where artists get their inspiration.
At our upcoming art club meeting, I will ask the students to reflect and share their thoughts, memories and impressions of the day. Perhaps John Dewey said it best: “There is an intimate and necessary relation between the processes of actual experience and education.” How do your students engage in experience-based learning? I’ve seen so many great ideas over the years….Feel free to share!