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.

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