Creating in Connecticut


Since Wednesday, I've been adventuring in the Northeast. My longtime colleague Susan has been directing a kid's program at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, near her home up here in the land of tall trees. She flew me up to help wrap up the second of two weeks, and to help shape the final "show and tell" for parents, and add a bit of help for a teacher's presentation next week. (I've got a hitch in the downloading photo process -- forgot the cable AND the cardreader, so more art later).

This program, NEW WORLD KIDS,  has been a pilot/continuation/experiment taking work we did years ago with Learning About Learning Educational Foundation and updating it for today's parents, and, in this case, a primary audience of 5-to-6 year olds. Throughout the week they've  been working with Susan, the museum's education staff, and a slew of tecnical supporters-- one aim has been to get pictures and good video for taking the program to the next stage, bigger and broader, we both hope (stay tuned for more). Exploring what we call "the Sensory Alphabet, " (formerly "the elements of form" for any of you in the audience who may be Paul Baker theater people), these little kids have been building fluency, learning about their inherent  preferences and working through the open-ended creative process of taking ideas into form.

Here's more from Susan's essay describing the program and process:

"The Sensory Alphabet is what we call the building blocks of creative literacy. Just as basic as the traditional alphabet used to teach the literacies of reading and writing, it is the basis of our sensory connection to the world around us – line, color, texture, movement, sound, rhythm, space, light, and shape. (It is tempting, first off, to think of it as an arts or design vocabulary...but it is more than is just as fundamental to an ability to “read” physics, basketball or DNA.)
This elemental vocabulary is the pattern language of everything that is “out there.” Because it describes, but doesn’t define, it enlarges the capacity for seeing patterns. It lets us see both lemons and windows as shapes...both ballet and algebra as lines. It also enlarges our capacity for perceiving patterns between disparate objects, fields and cultures...and this ability is one of the hallmarks of creative, innovative thinking.

"Consider The Sensory Alphabet as another very basic symbol system we want our children to acquire, just as basic as the traditional alphabet and numbers parents and teachers have long taught their children. The Sensory Alphabet multiplies children’s early repertoire of ways to symbolize, understand and communicate their ideas. Equally as importantly, it builds the foundation for a more informed interaction with the digital media that demands fluency in this symbol system, conveying ideas through images, videos, icons and sounds. As is obvious, these new media have largely abandoned written language ––and even the spoken word -- as the means of communicating meaning, information and story.

"Practicing Creativity

Along the way we consciously engage the creative process in small and large ways. Each interactive (or open-ended) activity includes:

1. looking/ gathering /collecting ideas
2. playing/experimenting with various media
3. selecting/editing/creating
4. reflecting on the work. "

                                                                       Susan Marcus,     
                                                                       educator and consultant


This pretty much describes my approach to both teaching and making art -- filling up, playing around, selecting and shaping, and reflecting on the process. Using a basic set of ways to think about and investigate ideas non-verbally. The reflection part of the process is often what this blog helps me with. By trying to succinctly explain, capture and summarize either product or process, I seem to find ways to make it clearer for myself, to see my stengths, to take the next bold step.