For me this year, all of my Christmas gifts have come in the form of people. I have been blessed with the last year in this new city as a place brimming with friends that I know will be a part of my life from now on, wherever I might travel or move. A rich tapestry of personality, experience and of course, nationality has become the fabric of my home away from home. And the beautiful thing about Guanajuato is that it is always weaving new people in…good folk just keep on arriving. How does this apply to eStudio 473 you ask? Well, everything is connected, always. The divisions are only created in our minds to simplify the day to day. My dad always encouraged me to find ways to include people in whatever I was involved in no matter how difficult this process might appear in the beginning he always guaranteed great results and unexpected developments. This stuck. And in result of this tendency….I have recently invited several individuals to join in on the Story Play projects that we have on the burner. (With goals to finish them all up in the month of January!) Throughout this past month a strong collective spirit has emerged in the inclusion of these individuals.
Our workshop, Story Play has been focused on making connections between visual art and narrative, imaginative and personal experience. But the collective project at hand is to create these things I like to call Story Play tools. As a group we are creating three interactive works of art that will live in the girls’ outdoor space and will offer opportunities for continued creative play and story-telling. We have been lucky enough to have an entourage of experts and artists circle around us this past month to work on these ambitious creations!
Project: Teatro Chistosa (Funny Theater) – A puppet theatre designed by the girls and John Ashbury Hunt, carpenter and cabinet-maker-vagabond from Austin, Texas. Johnny and another good friend of mine, Luis (as well as his boss who offered up tools and his workshop for the construction of the actual theatre) all came to our studio and worked together to use whatever items and wood we already had in the classroom. They were full of laughter as they tried to make due with what we had and shared knowledge and common phrases across the languages. The theatre is built and waiting for the girls to return from vacation to paint and decorate it!
Project: Bosque de nuestras Historias (Forrest of our Stories) – This interactive Surrealist Mural has been painted on the back-side of an old chalkboard that we found at the back of our studio (the old science lab). The mural is a mixed media piece that includes acrylic paint, paper maché and collage. There are two perspectives of the same “place”. One is the forrest in “madrugada” the earliest hours of the morning, or latest hours of the night…and the other is from a different vantage point and at sunset. The piece has three layers. One is the background which is simply painted. The second is the trees that represent each individual girl. They are drawn from the girls hands and have been built up with paper maché to create texture and depth to the piece. The girls worked with visiting artist, Coca Callan to learn this process. Each tree carries secret messages, stories and words written by the girls. Lastly, we have collaged fantastical creatures that dwell in our forrest of story. These will each attach to and detach from the mural with magnets. This will allow the forrest to take on an “aliveness” that can be played with and then talked about or written about on the other side!
Project: Casita Chica (Little House) – Every child should have the chance to explore their imaginations and express their ideas about their world and ever-expanding awareness of their environment through dramatic play. Creating a space in which to do this is our goal with La Casita Chica. Johnny and I found a great structure at a nearby junkyard and I tried to resist it, but I returned two days later with my good friend Julie, and bought it with great excitement and conviction that it was totally worth the pesos. I then met with las grandes, the oldest girls in the internado to explain their role in constructing La Casita Chica. Using a process where we iron multitudes of used plastic bags together to create a stronger fabric and then sew them together to create a “tent” of sorts that will enclose the structure, yet allow plenty of colorful light in. They will design panels and then construct them in the coming weeks.
We are sad that Johnny has to head back North but we are so thankful for his dedication and creativity! And we look forward to working with Coco again in January to finish our mural as well as possibly collaborating with her on future projects.
So, for now folks: I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, I wish you the best for the coming year, and I am grateful for the new friends I have made this year as well as all of the unexpected fruits of our collective labor. And tomorrow, my friend Paola and I are off on our adventure south to Chiapas and Guatemala. I will touch base again in 2011!