Friday, August 30, 2013

Pop Art That Pops Off The Page

In this issue of Sound Off, we cover an art medium we haven't covered before, Pop Art, which uses aspects of mass culture, such as advertising, comic books and mundane cultural objects and puts the focus on them in abstract form.

We spoke to Carolyn Brown, one of Camden Hills Regional High School's art and photography teachers about her students' Pop Art assignment.

"This was our Photo Class and I was showing them how to use Photoshop tools. I covered color theory, and different color combinations and how that was utilized in Pop Art. So. they worked from a photo they shot digitally and had to go in and use some of the selection tools and change the colors," she said. "In a real life application, if they were creating a web catalogue and wanted to sell 20 t-shirts colors for example, there's no need to shoot it 20 times. You'd go into Photoshop and re-color each one, which is how they do it for catalogue shoots."

Artist: Kaitlyn York

Note: this photo was not originally shot, but used from another source.

Artist: Marshall Spear

Artist: Peter Vannorsdoll

Artist: Alice Flint  

Artist: Sarah Haselton 

Q & A with Carolyn Brown

Editor: Are you just blown away sometimes about what your students' interpretation of the assignment is?

Carolyn Brown: Yes, some of them have really good imaginations if you just prod them a little a bit. They were so happy with this assignment, because they could interpret it the way they wanted. Of course, they had to learn the basics first, but then they're able to take those skills and apply it to their own ideas, producing something far more sophisticated than they could have done at the start of class.

Editor: Do you think you give these kids almost a college level education in your art classes at CHRHS? 

Carolyn: I think some of them really do take advantage of what we offer here and I think we are extremely lucky because a lot of the kids are really bright and pick things up quickly and run with it if you give them enough freedom to run with it. The thing I find we're fighting against is that a lot of them are used to doing work for the grade. But as long as I'm giving them the skill building at the early part of the class, they'll get more out of it. A lot of these kids do have the dedication and do have great imaginations to do something beyond the basic check list, as long as you make it clear to them that that's what you're looking for. They're not necessarily all going to be artists, but that creative thinking piece is going to carry them through any subject. Personal ownership of a subject and creative thinking makes it more interesting to the student.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Gargoyles & Monsters: Fun with 3-D Clay & Design

In this summer issue of Sound Off, we recall some of the last art projects done by CHRHS students in art teacher Russell Kahn's class. As we're always searching for new art mediums to feature, this project first required students to make a drawing of their proposed gargoyle or fantastic creature, then work off the drawing to make a 3-D design in clay as a precurser to working with their hands with more sophisticated elements. How they chose to work the clay, is, what we'll get into. Note: not all drawings of the projects were available at the time of the photos.

"First I wanted them to draw what they were going to make so they could get a realistic sense of how to work the clay. They are starting with this mini gargoyle project and the next two projects will be with plaster and paper mache."
-Art Teacher Russell Kahn

Artist: Emilie Oesterlin

We were supposed to be making a gargoyle and I decided to have more of a bird theme. So I thought that owls watch over things like gargoyles do and I incorporated that theme into my project. 

Artist: Zoe Grant

We were all starting to make gargoyles and mine had legs that were really long and skinny. So, my friend suggested that I make a mermaid instead. I just wanted something to be a little more soft and more feminine than a gargoyle.

Artist: Lexi Hersey

Well for some reason, this one reminds me of a gargoyle and I didn't want to do the traditional (depiction) of one. They're kind of creepy and scary. I wanted something a little more whimsical.

Artist: Sam Ellis

I just kind of wanted it to be gothic, kind of the traditional gargoyle. So I made this more like a bat with wings. I'm very happy with it. I think it came out better than the drawing did.


Artist: Josh Dean

Originally I started off with the Invader Vin concept; it's a cartoon character. Then I decided to put a little twist on it. I wanted to do something unique; everyone else is doing scary stuff.


Artist: Martha Moskowitz

I kind of based this of a gargoyle I'd seen in Paris when I visited. And I tried to bring a gothic approach to it with pillars and the church-like setting. And gargoyles always sit like they own the place, so I made a throne for this one. 


Editor's Comment
I found it very interesting that given the concept  of creating a gargoyle, this art project seemed to divide in its interpretation along gender lines. Most of the boys were more apt to make the gargoyle forbidding, adding more creepy elements to it. With the exception of one female student who had actually seen a stone gargoyle close up while abroad, most of the other girls, on the other hand, tended to deviate from the project's original concept, instead anthropomorphizing the creature into something more visually pleasing and non-threatening or more whimsical.

In any regard, it's refreshing to see how Mr. Kahn allows each student to interpret the project on his/her own terms...even if it doesn't adhere to the original concept. Art is about teaching skills, not getting the formula 100% correct.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Surrealism And A Whack Upside The Head

In this summer issue of Sound Off, we explore the last works of CHRHS high school students before they left for the school year or graduated. Art teacher Carolyn Brown introduced the characteristics of surrealism (art that doesn't follow the rules of gravity, surface change, scale change, color change) with a twist. "I was pushing each student to do something that challenged themselves on a new level," she said. "I gave the class an exercise where they all had to write down a certain number of nouns and verbs and put them in a pile. Then, they all had to grab back four nouns and two verbs and use them to create a drawing or a painting based on what they got from the random pile. Kind of a whack upside the head to shock their imaginations and push them with that problem-solving." 

Do kids like surrealism because it encourages them to break the rules?

"Yes," said Carolyn. "They have a lot of fun with it and loved coming up with something bizarre and interesting."

Here are a few examples of how the pieces turned out.

Artist: Alice Wang

Editor Comment: We've featured whimsical artist Alice Wang in Sound Off before. She has also appeared in Pen Bay Pilot's "Hail To The Rad Kid" series.

Teacher Comment:  Alice had recently done skeleton studies in a different class and decided she wanted to take this skill in a new direction and do something more original and creative with it. So she really cranked up the color and focused on the anatomy of the hand. 

Artist: Alice Wang

Teacher Comment: The clock was one of her words and she ended up doing something imaginative with it by using it as the eye of the owl, which was another one of her words. She could add other random elements as she saw fit. But, the idea was to come up with a  concept based on the words and she added objects juxtaposed in bizarre ways that make the viewer come up with a different meaning.

Artist: Greta Buckley

Teacher Comment:  In hers, I believe that what she did was take a couple of the words, the clock and magic wand and then she changed her word pile around a bit. She said what she was inspired by is working with the idea of fairy tales. Then, she added her own imagery. She used the clock as the metaphor of time passing in Cinderella's world and then the strike of the magic wand symbolizes something is about to happen. And then the trailing of words at the bottom are actually lyrics from Disney movie songs, like boppity boo. So fairy tales inside surrealism is how she worked out her ideas. 

Artist: Katie Sensenig

Teacher Comment: I know that one of the random words she had was "Eiffel Tower" and she came up with the rest of the idea that was reminiscent of some of her travels, like the poodle and the pyramid. She decided to turn it into a surrealistic landscape with these elongated cafe tables and chairs and cobblestones. She used some of the concepts of surrealism with changed form and juxtaposed images in a strange way.

Artist: Lizzie Ogle

Teacher Comment: Coincidentally, here is the clock again. Lizzie had a few words that gave her a starting point, like "eye" and "rabbit" and she added to that. She came up with the idea of an Alice In Wonderland theme with the checkerboard, the "Drink Me" bottle, the mushroom and the roses. This is actually Alice's eye in the dream of Alice In Wonderland. What was really fun about these projects is how the random words were triggers  and how that triggered ideas in their own minds for imagery.

To submit something to Sound Off, email, call (207) 236-9800 or mail to: Five Town Communities That Care, P.O. Box 1135, 219 Meadow Street, Rockport, ME 04856. Please include a real name and a phone number/email address so we can get in touch with you for editing purposes.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Identity Through Art

In this issue of Sound Off, we went back to The Watershed School, an alternative high school in Camden that encourages individual growth, because we'd heard that the students were working on a collaborative collage layering superimposed images and words onto wooden blocks. The theme, according to teacher Tom Weis, was centered around identity and self-exploration.We spoke with the students about what inspired their work and in turn, how did they use the imagery and words to communicate who they were.

 This is the collage hanging on Watershed's wall

"We used a gel medium, which is a painting medium and the students had to transfer images onto wood.  It was also an exercise on how to apply a graphic medium onto another surface, because they're going to be doing a similar project, in which they transfer images onto these longboard skateboard decks they're building. And the deck will then have a family crest.  
-Watershed Teacher Tom Weis 

Below are the individual tiles that made up the collage and what they stood for.

"I recently moved. I used to live in Warren in a big farm house and that was a big part of my childhood.  The blue signifies the ocean because now it symbolizes a bigger part of my life, I guess."
Artist, Isabel Crane

"These are some goals I had. It wasn't supposed to be this blurry, but the top photo is me skiing at the top of Saddleback Mountain, something I've wanted to do for a long time. The words are something my dad says."
Artist, Jesse Dunn

"Well, dance is one of the major things in my life. And I live right on the coast, on the water. I've got ocean water in my blood, as they say. The blue is the sky to represent the freedom that I want and the freedom that I hope to gain."
Artist, Leslie Ryan

"The pictures are of my house, my town, a tree in my back yard. 'Cause I don't really travel that much and spend most of my time here. I don't really consider myself to be a writer/artist, obsessed with purging himself of the thing troubling his soul by means of pen and paper. But people seem to think I am."
Artist, Benjamin Moon-Black 

"This is pretty much my take on my nationality and the United States because I was born in China, but I was adopted and brought over here. And the first thing people think of me when they first look at me is obviously, 'you're Asian and blah blah.' And I've never had a strong connection to China because I was just a baby and the U.S. is what I've always known. That's why I say I'm not defined by Buddhist statues."
Artist, Heather Dumond

"I just wanted to put in a picture of my house because it's an important part of my life and I added a picture of a bass guitar, because that's another important part of my life. The rest was just pictures of the sky and the environment because I think the environment, geographically is a big part of who I am."
Artist, Declan Donnelly

"The point was that the skull has all these images representing your experiences are in life and people you've met and that transitions into the words that you are going to think or say. These photos are a wedding I went to, my cousins, my friends, nature, American flag, myself. These were song lyrics from different songs."
Artist, Peter Duda

"I have pictures around my hometown and my childhood, my field, and water. I grew up on a lake. The song lyrics really are all my favorite songs and they describe my identity and how I feel."
Artist, Laurel Brooks

"My first idea was to make the collage with ground level pictures in a darker tone then eventually make them greener as you go higher and bluer at the top to simulate the landscape of the dirt, green grass and trees and sky. These are accumulated pictures of walking downtown or my house or Watershed. My quote is by Ella Fitzgerald."
Artist, Jaren Brooks

Editor comment: After the students learned how to do this superimposing process, they will now take the gel medium and apply it onto their next project below, longboard skateboards. All I can say is: wish I'd gone to Watershed as a teen.

Teacher Tom Weis working with his students on the longboard project next.

To submit something to Sound Off, email, call (207) 236-9800 or mail to: Five Town Communities That Care, P.O. Box 1135, 219 Meadow Street, Rockport, ME 04856. Please include a real name and a phone number/email address so we can get in touch with you for editing purposes.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Poetry Issue 2013

April is National Poetry Month and Sound Off is proud to present a variety of poetry styles from local teens. From prose poetry to standard poetry to entries in The Good Tern's Postcard Project in Rockland, thanks go to the teens from The Community School's Passages Program as well as The Watershed School for sharing their poems with us. Note:  Each of the poems in the photos has been transcribed below.

Watershed School poems and artwork

  Laurel Brooks

A dream you dream alone is only a dream; a dream you dream together is reality.
-John Lennon 

Author Comment: I've always liked the Beatles and this has always been my favorite quote. I interpret it you're not going to succeed in your dream unless you get help from someone else.

Jerin Brooks

Snow is falling but will never stay.

Everything gives way to change

Nature’s sacrifice gives way to life.

Nothing is ever truly lost

Always found in something else.

And whatever beauty melts from our grasp

Gives, sprouts life to something else. 

Author Comment: Everything has to change eventually, but not everything is always lost.  You see these patterns in nature and in other things.

 Ben Moon-Black

Sitting alone 
I think
empty voices

Calls of those gone 
from the hollow chambers.

break them 

They fall into 
grains of 
falling through a 
to history.

Author Comment: This was a poem I wrote when I was 13. I usually write at night and this was a depressing poem. I used to be a nihilist. 

Jesse Dunn

I'm just an old printer in some school.
I haven't worked in a week.
But no one seems to care.
No one needs an old printer anymore.
If they cared, they would fix me.

Author Comment: The printer was broken and no one had fixed it in awhile. I thought if I wrote this, it would draw some attention--it was more of a joke. By the time I'd written it, the printer was fixed, but I taped this poem to it anyway.

 Louisa Crane

It's the fire in my eyes,
and the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm  woman
-Maya Angelou

Author Comment: I'm female obviously and 15 and take pride in being a girl. But I think there's a lot of things in the world that are unequal for women. I put together some photos that I thought represented the poem.

Emma K. Faunce

Curve the word
Bend the Pen
Ink and Quill
as lovers do
Two of a kind
One of the same
the words bend me
and take me away
adventurers bending
without my leave
the words unite me
like dancers
lost on the wind.

Author Comment: The poem itself is like the process of writing. I like to write a lot and don't think about it it just happens. Writing has a certain kind of flow like dancing.

Adult Comment: Entering the contest was a bit spur of the moment because just the weekend before we had finished mounting a production of the 18th-century comedy She Stoops to Conquer. Lois Anne's (organizer of The Good Tern Poetry Postcard Project) deadline was the same day, so we decided to make our impromptu entries and send them in. We followed Lois's guidelines - art about poetry, or poetry about art, or anything related to poetry - as long as it fit on a single postcard - a great idea, and one the students really enjoyed. The students who participated are all in either 9th or 10th grade. By the way, some wrote their own poems and some made artwork accompanied by quotes from published poems.
-Watershed English Teacher, Brian Boyd

Passages poems


Mikayla Williams

A relationship shouldn't be work.

It shouldn't be fighting to make things work,

It should be two people no more no less.

Outside conflicts shouldn’t reflect it.

Outside parties shouldn’t disrupt it.

So many times I have cried myself to sleep.

So many times I have begged for you to stay.

No more letting myself get hurt,

For someone who doesn’t care.

No more letting myself give in to you,

For simple things to change your mind.

I am done being let down.

I am done being broken down.

Author Comment: My relationship was mostly fighting and going downhill when I wrote the poem. When I got pregnant things had begun to get rocky, and still were when my daughter turned one. That is when I had enough of being treated poorly. We ended things on bad terms and that is when I wrote the poem.

Adult Comment: Mikayla's poem came to be after being encouraged to do a creative writing piece.  Expressing oneself can be challenging and this student wrote this poem as a way to sort her feelings after being hurt in a relationship.  I love that it expresses her feelings and her writing style allows readers to hear her voice.
Passages Teacher, Erica Gates

This Window

Niomi M. Johnson

He asked me why I was looking out the window, I never spoke.

He said it's only black out there, and I thought if you could know what is seen through my eyes.

Behind this window is a person who looks out waiting for the window to open.

Behind this window is pain, is tears, is lies.

I lie to myself about a lot of things, that I'm happy, that I'm fine, that I'm okay. When you see my smile or laugh, is it me just laughing at myself? I question this constantly. My weakness, my insincerity, my thoughts. Is being me a joke? I guess that is a good enough reason to laugh.

So sitting in the dark with spiders and dirt is where I lay, where my state of mind is all the time. I seen rain pour down and I can relate to my poor face. The snow piles up like emotions, creeping up slowly, turning cold.

Relationships? Is like a spider crawling down from a web, eating the fly's insides, am I the fly? Rabbits eating their children, is that my parents?

Where to go I am not sure of, I am a schizophrenic when it comes to life, who is to say they are someone, when they just imagine they are?

Cigarettes help me cope, it's just like life burning away at your fingertips, but it burns slow, and you can't breathe, kinda like after you are done smoking, with life you are done.

Am I a Luna Moth? All they do is live to breed and make more, is that life? Or do they know how bad of a world we “live” in? Because they don't live long enough to find out.
Looking out this window makes a lot of sense. For once I'm just waiting to smash a rock through and let light in to be happy, but it's too bad every time I feel like smashing it, it's always night time. 

Author Comment: When I wrote this poem, all of my time was spent in a bedroom. There was this one window I would look out of because that was all I could do. Finally, one night all of my emotions hit me all at once. I had a lot going on in my life at the time. I felt so trapped and the best way to express myself was to pick up my pen and paper, look out the window and let my feelings flow.

Adult Comment: Niomi wrote this poem because she is a poet. She happened to share it with me because I appreciate poetry and also because I am her teacher. She "handed in" this poem as part of her requirement to create something, but the topic and content were entirely her choice.
-Passages Teacher, Fern Hilyard

The Pregnancy Project

a poetic response by Haileigh Ingraham

I faked a pregnancy

I got a lot of hate because of it

everyone said it was bound to happen

because every family member of mine had
become a parent at a young age

statistics show a lot of teen pregnancy each

so I wanted to help prevent it by this project

and to show everyone how it was like to be

after the big reveal came out that I was not

a lot of people were touched

and I had a lot of news reporters wanting to
interview me

it became something bigger than I expected

I want to become something more than what
my family became

so that would mean I didn’t want to follow in
their footsteps and become a teen mom.

my name is Gaby and this is my story.

Adult Comment: Haileigh is a new, first time mom and we loaned her a book called the Pregnancy Project based on the true story of Gaby Rodriguez, the 18-year-old Washington state high school student who pretended to be pregnant in an effort to explore conventional stereotypes and the treatment of pregnant teens. It's her take on the story of Gaby herself, the girl who faked her own pregnancy, but also society looks at preganncy and what a new mom faces.
Passages Teacher, Cindy Stevenson 

To submit something to Sound Off, email, call (207) 236-9800 or mail to: Five Town Communities That Care, P.O. Box 1135, 219 Meadow Street, Rockport, ME 04856. Please include a real name and a phone number/email address so we can get in touch with you for editing purposes. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Playing With Photography

In this issue of Sound Off we visit art teacher Carolyn Brown's photography class at Camden Hills Regional High School. The students are playing with different elements of photography from traditional composition and dark room to using a scanner, layers and Photoshop. 

"Everyone had to shoot a formal composition shot with a traditional camera in black and white and develop the film in the dark room. Then we had them take one digital photo were they had to scan some kind of texture, for example some Japanese paper, and then layer it up with their photos with Photoshop." 
-Carolyn Brown

The fun part is seeing what was behind their individual choices below:

Sarah Haselton
"Over the sidewalk I scanned in an Indian print on paper and over the rocks I faded in another kind of paper and edited out the background."

Sarah Haselton
"This street was by my house and I thought it was cool because the sign says 'Dead End' but then the road continues, contradicting what the sign says."

Helen Carter
"I scanned Japanese paper onto the computer and through Photoshop, erased the edges of the leaf so it looked as though the paper was the color of the leaf. I also scanned another paper and cut around so it looks like the rocks  had that natural pattern." 

Helen Carter
"This is my sister. Most everyone in my family has a pair of L.L. Bean boots. It's such a traditional Maine boot, so I thought it would be very interesting to shoot that."

Peter Vannorsdall
"I just took a picture of my friend and I Photoshopped a picture of a seagull into her face because I always call her 'gull' instead of 'girl.' I wouldn't say she was really pleased with this."

Peter Vannorsdall
"This is a progression piece that starts far away from the ocean and gets closer. The one on the bottom is a glimpse of Rockport Harbor. The one in the middle gives you a greater idea of it. Then the one at the top is right at the shore."

Jack Henry
"I found a picture of these sunglasses sitting on a log and then I found a picture of a mountain range. So then I cropped it and erased some of it to make it look like the mountains were reflected in the sunglasses. So it's almost like something beyond the photo you're seeing."

Jack Henry
"This is on my front porch. It's a kayak and I was looking at it from a window inside when I noticed how the lines of the kayak and the lines of the porch railing and the deck of the porch and the lines of the wall all merged nicely. They're either perpendicular or parallel and I liked how it looked." 

Sean Manning
"That's my cat, Raffi. I took Japanese paper and I selected the background of the photo. Then I copied and pasted the paper layer onto the background and I made it translucent so it wouldn't drown out the cat."

Sean Manning
"This is the original photo that I scanned in to make the digital photo."

Jarod Vanleer
"I was going hiking with my dad one day. Basically I went into Photoshop and turned down the contrast and made the background almost military colors. I decided to Photoshop some words into it describing how I was feeling that day." 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Open Mic Night

In this issue of Sound Off, we get to be a fly on the wall for Open Mic Night, held at The Rig, a meeting place in Camden for teens in 9th-12th grade "that provides opportunity for our local area youth to develop connection - with themselves, with one another and with the community."

The coolest thing about this spot is that on a Friday night, kids from all different social stratas hung out in one place with a little bit of that Breakfast Club vibe.  Whether they played foosball, or sat quietly creating something or reading or conversed in small circles, whenever anyone got up on The Rig's stage to sing or perform, everyone in the room supported the performer, clapping afterwards. Here's a look at some of the scenes that went down that night. 

Meet Peytonious Maximus, a.k.a. Peyton Feener, 17, a student at The Community School. This girl is on fire. She participates in Roller Derby,  she DJs, she volunteers for Project AWARE, and Out As I Want To Be!; she worked on Obama's re-election campaign and she's a musician/ singer.

See more of Peyton in Pen Bay Pilot's "Hail To The Rad Kids" column.

 A wall of inspirational (or random) expressions graces The Rig's hallway.

This is one of Peyton's expressions.

 This is Peyton's friend above, "Tuesday McQuatters" and fellow band musician, who prefers to only have her hand photographed. She plays bass, guitar and ukelele. "I'm a freshman, but I'm wise beyond my years," she laughed. Asked if they would play, she said, "I guess we're just chilling tonight."  "We had band practice today, though," said Peyton. "It was pretty beast. We're setting up a demo for a record company."

When playing foosball, things can get heated. Competition is fierce. Pictured: Joe Simmons takes on Alex Henthorn and Jacob Corney of CHRHS. (Courtesy of The Rig Director, Nicole Marie Fuller)

Joe Simmons has been featured in Sound Off before for his original website creations. Here he shows off his latest computer generated logos or isotypes (see below).

The isotypes explained from top to bottom. "The disco guy is just like a 'Warning! Disco sign, and the next two warning signs relate to video games. The isotype on the bottom is like the evolution of a guy who is running, then he's biking , then he's getting a little lazier on his Segway and then sitting with his laptop. It just says to me that with technology, people are getting lazier and lazier and not getting active."
-Joe Simmons

Jalina "Jolly" Brown, 17, was there to not only hang out but also to film the Open Mic Night as a promo for The Rig

 "Hopefully we'll get a short two-minute video out of this to get people to donate and get the word out about what The Rig is," she said. Jolly is also an artist and an actor. She auditioned for Project AWARE's public service announcement videos and played the part of a pregnant girl. 

"The PSA was basically about how two seconds can change your life and how you should think about the decisions you make before you make them," she said.

See more of Jolly in Pen Bay Pilot's "Hail To The Rad Kids" column.

What's so interesting about this song is when Tuesday starts to sing, everyone stops talking and listens. Haunting cover of "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails.

One of the performances was an old Bob Dylan cover by the band below.

Band members Orion Krause, Aidan Gordon, Cooper Krause, Taylor Benner and Caroline Albertson 

Asked what the band's name was, Aidan Gordon said, "Um, we don't really have a name. Call it the Aidan Gordon Experience." Asked if the rest of the band was "on board' with that, he said, "Yes."

Using a DJ behind him to cue up the music, Jacob Corney did a Karaoke song of "All Star" by Smash Mouth

For more photos of the Open Mic Night, check out The Rig's own gallery.

"Open Mic at The Rig is always a hit. It gives kids a chance to express themselves and get positive attention from their peers. It's refreshing to experience so much talent and passion on nights like these. Some students have never been on stage before, and like many other Rig activities, it gives them a safe opportunity to push their comfort zones slightly."
-Nicole Marie Fuller, Director of The Rig 

To submit something to Sound Off, email, call (207) 236-9800 or mail to: Five Town Communities That Care, P.O. Box 1135, 219 Meadow Street, Rockport, ME 04856. Please include a real name and a phone number/email address so we can get in touch with you for editing purposes.