An Open Letter To Our Studio Parents
Since August last year, I have become really intermittent and inconsistent with my Facebook updates. I have always hope to involve and help parents understand what I do with the children in class, so that you can support your children properly. So I sincerely apologise for the absence from the social media realm which has been my most effective communication tool in explaining the classes so far.
I hope to give an update to some of the adjustments I am bringing into my classroom and also the rationale.
A while back, I was busy finding out how to explain Utter Studio. It came down to
No cookie cutter methods
100% child invested (I never EVER edit children’s work)
Children’s own developmental pace
For children to acquire the Art of observation and see the world with curious eyes
With my focus on empowering children through tangible drawing results that they can achieve on their own, the studio has always geared towards exercises that allowed them to continuously hone their perceptive skills. This methodology has yielded great results thus far. However, I would like to introduce Utter Studio 2.0, with a bringing the focus back to the word “utter” meaning student voice and sound.
2017- ANIMAL FRENZY EXHIBITION
In 2017, while preparing for the art exhibition, I had 2 major findings
My studio children have difficulty articulating (language) their own artworks. They generally found it really tough to talk and write about their own artworks.
My studio children were more interested in their own artwork and not as curious about other student’s artwork during the exhibition. Most had very limited recollections of what other artworks were present.
I realised that the ability to appreciate articulate and appreciate is a skill that needs to be taught, consciously. The ability to engage in meaningful conversation with other artwork, is similar to the ability to connect with people. Language, articulation and appreciation are all tightly woven components of a holistic education for children. It is not enough to help them see and draw better. They need to be able to speak confidently with words as well.
2018- A FRESH START
The truth is, during my 2017 holiday classes, I have children who tell me “My mom threw away my artwork. I had to beg her to at least keep it in the cupboard.” It was a heartbreaking moment to hear children believe that their artwork belongs in the closet. So I started 2018 with a CNY artwork that was turned into a printed cushion cover. I believe in the power of bringing tangible outcomes to children, showing them just how real and valuable their artwork is. With this, I will be incorporating this product element (turning artworks into meaningful items) permanently as part of the Utter Studio culture.
*Joy and pride in hugging their own products
This year I am also shifting the studio focus to include
Artist appreciation work for all age group.
First principles of Art appreciation. Being deliberate and intention in building up student language/vocabulary basics
Looking at other qualities of Art outside of realism (most children only has one way to gauge if their artwork is good)
I started the younger age groups 4-8 years old with appreciation of Piet Mondrian’s abstract art to introduce simple and essential vocabulary of lines. It is interesting to note that the younger children were absorbing the vocabulary much better and started to enjoy writing about their artwork. The vocabulary are intentionally injected and repeated, the children picked it up and started using it in their language as we observe and attempted complex perspective drawings of the toy cars and trucks.
*3D truck attempted by 7 year-old Lucas
*Sports car by 4 year-old Jade
The older age groups started with Jean Dubuffet’s line artwork. The children had difficulty letting go of “making their artwork pretty”. They came face-to-face with their fear of producing something “ugly” and how that affected their ability to even draw/observe. It was a wonderful lesson to reframe the purpose of making Art and introducing different art making methods.
10 year old Davien had a hard time doing a one line doodle because it made his mommy’s face look “funny”. Only after letting go of his fear of “failing” did he manage to enjoy the project and create his wire sculpture. I want the children to allow themselves to fail badly because when they can accept failure, they can learn to move. No more will they be afraid to even try because of the fear.
Hopefully this can give you a better idea of some shifts I have been making in the works I’m doing with your children. The old values of Utter Studio remain intact. 2018, I will up my game in nurturing more confident children and updating parents more.
Thank you for being patient and trusting Utter Studio.