MTA Summer Conference 2010

The MTA Summer Conference experience  feels like away camp for teachers.

Day 1 August 8: Arrived at Williams College (#1 private college in whole US!!!), Williamstown, MA, registered at Spencer Hall MTA outdoor tables and picked up key for Sage Hall dorm (spartan super small 1st floor room – brought fan for comfort – no air conditioning), unpacked car, parked car, supped, met up with old friends, talked, laughed, compared spider veins and other signs of aging with friend, washed up, brushed teeth and got ready to turn in … before 10PM. Pooped – long drive on Mass Pike, 30 mph bumper to bumper, extra hour added on the usual 3 to get to Williams College by 4PM. I am scheduled to present 2 topics, both art related: Mosaics (Monday) and Doodling (Tuesday). Doodling sounds like a gut subject; a big waste of time but it’s not – it is a right brain activity that actually enhances memory and attention, will cite British study and pass along lots of data & handouts. Will share life time doodling anecdotes, share some techniques, encourage participant sharing and inspire creative juices. On the mosaic front: I have mosaic tile and boards for 24 but limited the class size to 15 [will accepted no more than 18 due to limited table space]. Participants will create a mosaic following lesson & rubric provided. The whole point of the lesson is that tools and grout other than scissors are not required to produce a fine piece of artwork at a reasonable cost per pupil. I am featuring Stone By Stone tiles & Elmer’s glue. Expecting to have lots of fun. Also, each year I look forward to a Simple Silk Screening class that focuses on excellent results from regular copy paper friskets. I have taken the class twice already and can’t get enough of it – will be working on my lizard design that I have already worked up to save time. Wednesday is Museum Day – I am hoping to view the Degas and Picasso exhibits at the Clark. I love Williams College, Williamstown, The Clark, MASS MoCA, North Adams, and the Berkshires!  I just wish that we could lose the humidity – is this too much to ask?

Day 2 August 9: Presented Mosaics workshop this morning to full class. Overall, participants were happy with supplies, experience and their results. Tomorrow morning I am looking forward presenting Doodling to a full capacity class. I attended a packed screening of Shout It Out, directed by Bess O’Brien. The film was very relevant to high school students, especially in light of new MA anti-bullying laws. The movie was filmed at Mt. Mansfield, Jericho, VT (I could see Camel’s Hump in the background of a lot of shots. Sure enough, it was pouring after the movie and I was lucky enough to bring my super-compact umbrella – what we need is a weather changer, not just puddles! Deval Patrick was the MTA keynote speaker – he supports education but all incumbents face tough re-elections this fall. Tomorrow I’ll try harder to take pictures. Also, I’m psyched for Tuesday afternoon’s silk screen class!!!

Day 3 August 10: My Doodling workshop was well attended with 15 men & women doodlers of novice and master mixed experience shared amongst all participants. The doodle share at the end of the workshop was fun as each participant shared their doodling history: one woman said that when she was in elementary school she sold her doodles for 5 cents to her classmates. Another participant claimed that she “would never feel guilty again” for doodling. A few participants said that they weren’t doodlers and that doodling made them feel like they were wasting time but that they could understand they need to doodle in others, especially in their students.

The silk screen workshop did not fail my expectations. I came with my washed t-shirts and lizard design so that I could get to work right away. Of course I over extended myself with a design that required 5 paper friskets + 1 frisket for a white layer so that all the other layers of ink would show up(my T-shirts were lime green & aqua – a white shirt wouldn’t have needed an extra frisket). I worked real hard, sweat poured off me as I cut each paper frisket and drank bottle after bottle of water. My lizards came out decent (my registration marks were somewhat off but adds some charm), one lizard, I’ll call her Lizette – has eye lashes because the black ink ran – sometimes you have to make lemonade when you get lemons). I really enjoyed the workshop and look forward to it next year. Get well Tex!

Day 4 August 11: Museum Field Trips. 25 teachers, retired, working, guidance counselors, etc. got to tour MASS MoCA (excellent) and North Adams Historical Museum for a total of 5 hours.  Actually, MASS MoCA could take all 5 hours to see everything. I especially liked the Sol LeWitt walls, Leonard Nimoy‘s photos, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle house, and Petah Coyne‘s motion photographs. Tomorrow, I plan on visiting The Clark Art Institute (Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA) before I go home.

Day 5 August 12: The Clark – I absolutely love The Clark! I walked through 3 galleries devoted to Picasso and Degas sketches, drawings, paintings and sculpture; the exhibition was called Picasso Looks At Degas it is running through September 12, 2010. It was a wonderful, wonderful event – I started my experience by watching an 80 minute film called Picasso: A Film by Didier Baussy-Oulianoff (2009), then moved into the first floor gallery to start soaking up the artwork. Degas’ Petite Dancer (Little Dancer Aged Fourteen) graced the 2nd floor gallery entrance and one etching of ballet dancers by Picasso caught my eye – his dancers were thick and ungainly, I couldn’t picture them taking flight nor silently spinning which then reminded me of Disney’s hippopotamus ballet dancers in Fantasia. Pablo Picasso said that “good artists copy; great artists steal.” Picasso often paid homage to other artists by doing his own take on their work, as he was coming into his own Degas was 60 years old – Picasso admired Degas’ work and collected 9 of Degas’ monotypes which later inspired Picasso to create his own etchings in which he included Degas in every scene mostly as an observer.

A trip to The Clark wouldn’t be complete without visiting Fume d’Ambre Gris by John Singer Sargent. I think of The Clark as being my museum, everytime I visited my son while he attended MCLA and I attended the MTA event I always stopped by The Clark and I have never been disappointed; my life has been enriched beyond measure.