In Depth Post #7: The Creation of the Planets

So, on Monday night, I created Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. I think in the Bible, it took 6 days or so to create the Earth, but I made 4 planets, and it only took me about an hour.Of course, my planets are about the size of large buttons.

In this post, I’ll be talking about how emotions and diversions affect my conversations and progress with my mentor.

jpegEspecially in art, the following statement is particularly true: “When making choices between options that are basically identical we use our feelings to figure out which feels the best.” One example of this is when I was making decisions about how to place the buttons on my “Earth”. I had chosen two buttons; there was one for each side of the planet, as it was a 2D kind of object. I had chosen the colour blue because Earth is mostly covered by water. I think this is a pretty rational decision I made. However, I then had to decide which side of the button, (front or back) would face outwards. I ended up deciding to keep the front faces of the button facing outwards. This decision wasn’t really based on fact, as the buttons both had mostly flat back faces and were unpatterned on that side. However, I decided that I liked the patterns on the outside of the buttons (one was wood, and had lines from the wood it was cut from, and the other was plastic and had ripples) and kept them facing outwards because I thought it looked prettier, more natural and a bit irregular. So that decision was mostly based off of how the arrangement of the buttons made me feel.







The criteria I use for stating feelings in the beginning of a conversation differs from situation to situation. However, it usually occurs when I already have a strong feeling or idea of how I want the art to turn out. I’m more inclined to state that I really like something rather than I don’t like something, so if I like something the first time around, I’ll state my feelings about it sooner. If I don’t like how something looks, I usually keep it around for a bit and explore other options before stating my feelings, just to give it a chance. For example, when I started creating my learning center display, I told my mentor that I would have a table at about waist height. Since my two main art pieces are hanging, I told my mentor I was struggling with finding a way to display them. I suggested that I had been thinking of hanging them off of a tri-fold display, but I wasn’t entirely sure how to do that. My mentor liked the idea of the tri-fold, because it was easy to transport and added enough height that my pieces wouldn’t be squished on the same level. After a trial and error process, we used bamboo sticks to stabilize the tri-fold and make beams to hang my art off of. In that case, I didn’t have strong feelings/ideas about the tri-fold before we started, so I stated my feelings about it later, after we had discussed the more objective pros and cons of our options. On the other hand, I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted the tri-fold to be coloured, so I stated my feelings right up front. I wanted it to fade from black in one corner to blue in the other, in radial gradient. This way, it related to both space junk and jellyfish habitat, with black for space and the deep ocean, and blue for the atmosphere of Earth and shallower ocean. I also tend to state my feelings up front when I have less time, and I certainly had less time for the painting. My mentor and I only got to the point of mixing our paint (using leftover paints from my mentor, of course) by the time I had to leave. We’re using a lot of multi-coloured scrap paint, which makes a gray base, and adding a dark, green-blue and a lighter purple-blue to get a blue/black colour. We also added silver paint to give it a bit of a shine.

I took a diversion in a conversation yesterday that is almost perfectly described in De Bono’s How to Have a Beautiful Mind. When finished with Mars, I took a moment to survey what I had left to do. Although we were still thinking about a different topic (we had been searching for materials, and came up with some stuff we didn’t think of using but looked really cool), I piped up with a provocative question: What can I do to make this wooden circle look weathered, harsh or old?

I was asking to learn about a skill or method, and also describing with both objective and subjective adjectives what message I wanted to convey. Old is a pretty objective adjective, because you can measure how old an object is. Weathered is a bit of both, because we perceive an item as weathered or new, not always depending on something we can measure, like its age. I would say harsh is a subjective adjective, because a situation that may seem harsh to one person may seem normal or pleasant to another. I think the diversion worked really well, because when I asked directly about what I could do to get to my end point, we were able to come up with some options and really quickly decide what we wanted to do. I used pumice gel to form a bumpy, rough surface on the planet, and let it dry with the Mars planet. This led to a conversation about weathered items, and in recycled art, how much you want to show of the original materials. Normally, artists try to hide the origins of their materials as much as possible, so that they can better control the message they convey with their art. However, with recycled art, the point of my project is to make people aware of the origins of my materials, and how junk items become meaningful. Thus, I show a lot more of the origins of my materials – for example, the button holes on Mars’s ice cap could have been covered, but I decided to leave them to let everyone see that yes, they are buttons. So, this diversion made my conversation a lot richer, and introduced me to new things that I otherwise wouldn’t have thought about.

Space Junk…coming soon!

I’m starting to think about writing my Artist’s statement, so keep an an eye out on my blog. I’ll post a draft and a good copy when I’m done.

New areas to explore – In Depth week 10

So, for most of Spring Break I was in Cuba, with the school music department. The cool thing about Cuba is that, because of the US embargo, they are forced to re-use or maintain a lot of their old technology and materials; for example, the Cuban cars. In Cuba, each family has one car that may have been passed down for generations. The car bodies are from the mid 1900s, but they have newer motors and car parts inside. Going to Cuba let me experience a lot more recycled art, which has led me to find some international concepts about recycled art.

  1.  Conservation
    1.  The item is made with something used or destined for the trash. The item can be used for the same purpose as before, or a new purpose. For example, the car bodies were still cars, but I also saw hats made out of old pop cans. The concept is to give the object/material a second life.
  2.  Art/aesthetic
    1. The driving idea being recycled art: trash for one person can be beauty to another. Finding aesthetic value in trash requires imagination and a willingness to try new things.
  3. Awareness
    1. Recycled art is often used to raise awareness for the “throw-away” mindset we have in more fortunate countries, or the damage caused by the objects we throw away.
  4.  Value
    1. Recycled art is meant to be of equal or greater value than it originally was, whether as an art piece or something practical, like a bag or candlestick.
  5. The technical skill concept
    1. There is a lot of technical skill required for this! Multi-media art requires a lot of broad knowledge about materials and their properties, and delicacy in putting them together.
My desk + some materials for my jellyfish!

Some more specific things I learned was that recycled art is mostly about technical things, such as shaping and holding objects. It is very important to find objects with the right physical properties – or, create your project around your materials if you don’t have time to search for the perfect material. Wire is very useful, because it holds it shape and can be bent into whatever you need. Flimsy plastics, like plastic wrap and plastic bags, are also useful because they are easy to drape over things and are usually transparent or translucent. An alternative I explored with my mentor was crushing and balling up soft plastics to use the fluffy, layered look they have. Though I didn’t have many other options, I think my mentor has been a really good fit for me. Her background in painting, multi-media art, and practically anything art-related makes it a really good relationship between her and I, because she has a ton of knowledge and experience about a wide range of things – from how to cut plastic to building up paper-mache. Another mentor may have been able to help me go more in-depth in a specific area, like working with paper or metal, but I think that the rag-tag assortment of materials I have fits best with my current mentor.

Other than coming up with alternatives and suggesting them, I ask my mentor for alternatives.For example, when attaching my ribbons to my jellyfish, I discussed many different alternatives with my mentor. I brought up the issue of keeping the tentacles to the outside of the jellyfish, and together, we generated these options:

  1. Placing a balled-up plastic bag in the center of the jelly (similar to crinoline on a skirt)
  2. Attaching tentacles from the top of the jelly to the outer edges (like a tent)
  3. Placing a small plastic cone inside the jelly (wouldn’t be as messy as the bag, but less puffy)
  4. Using a little glue on the inside of the jelly to hold the tentacles in place
Hole-punches for tentacles.
Tentacles (made w/ wrapping paper)

The great thing about generating so many alternatives is that you can pick the best parts of each option and incorporate them. For instance, I’m attaching the tentacles to the outer edges to make it more decorative, but I’m putting a little cone (top of a water bottle) inside the jelly to hold the tentacles to the sides of the jelly. This leaves the inside of the jelly still relatively uncluttered, so it won’t get tangled in transport. It also makes it easier to arrange the tentacles, because they don’t have to be glued down.

DSCF2851Now that we’re about halfway through the project, I need to look at my progress. Looking back, I realize that finding a mentor so late into my project has slowed me down a bit. DSCF2856To make up for it, I’m dedicating an hour on Wednesdays to working on In-Depth each week. I’m 3/4 done my jellyfish, and a little over halfway done my space junk mobile. I had two other projects I wanted to do before May. One was in accordance with my Environmental issue project, and represented BC’s power system – A sculpture using plugs and a light bulb attached to a fish. DSCF2858Often, people don’t realize that although hydro-power is renewable, it still has environmental effects that need to be mitigated. The other was a hot air balloon candle-holder. My idea was to make a candle-holder out of the metal cans and wire I have in the shape of a hot air balloon, but I would need help cutting and shaping the metal from my mentor. I definitely want to make the first one, but the second one I think I will leave out of my plans until I’ve finished everything else. From seeing the little trinkets in the Cuban tourist shops, I realized I could also easily make with my strange collection of materials was a wind chime, if I have time. But I already have enough to work on.

For the new few sessions, I’m going to focus on my jellyfish to get it done, and begin work on the hydro-power sculpture in my own time. Looking back, I realize that finding a mentor so late into my project has slowed me down a bit. To make up for it, I’m dedicating an extra hour on Wednesdays to working on In-Depth each week.

Final Speech Draft (Document of Learning)

So, as many of the tens know by now, the speech you present is constantly shifting and evolving up until the moment you finally present it onstage. After three days of memorization, and slight changes, and adding parts because “it felt right”, I ended up presenting a slightly different version of my last Eminent Person speech in TALONS onstage last night.

Okay. Close your eyes and imagine you’re sitting in a squeaky red folding chair. In front of you is a stage, lit in the center with a spotlight. Around you are parents, teachers and students in similar red creaky folding chairs that are really quite uncomfortable after a while. Then someone dashes on stage from behind the curtain, sporting a large afro. And they speak:

“They’re coming for me.
The FBI’s “Wanted” posters read “Angela Davis”, but sometimes the picture is another black woman, unrelated to me except for our common oppressor. And what does this tell me? I’m just a stock photo that can be swapped out for the hundreds of others like me.
They don’t see me as a person. They see me as a problem. Well, the real problem is much bigger than me.
My hometown was bombed because of its black residents, my neighbours were beaten and stabbed for sending their black kids to a white public school. America may have abolished slavery, but racism still persists.
Oh, America: (Pause) the land of the free and the brave. We sure as hell aren’t free, but we are brave. Brave enough to see that this justice system is wrong. It discriminates anyone who isn’t white, straight and well-off.
And prison isn’t helping. We are locking up the problem somewhere we can’t see it. We need to rehabilitate these prisoners, not push them under the rug to be forgotten. Those with substance abuse problems, the illiterate, the homeless, the unemployed: these are people too, not just problems.
I’ve been accused of kidnapping and murder. Neither of these charges are true. What I’m really being charged for is my battle to abolish prisons, my struggle to end oppression. I’m being hunted for trying to liberate America.
Until now, I’ve only dared to move at night, going to whichever house will hide me. But I don’t want to run anymore. I have nothing to hide. I’m proud of who I am and what I am trying to do. Yes, I am black! I am a woman! I am a radical thinker! I am Angela Davis, and I am not afraid!”


Looking back at my goals for this project, I learned a lot more about the world from looking into the issues Angela Davis was interested in. As I said in my introductory post, I try to stay updated with the news and current events, but this project brought to light a whole other side of civil rights I had never really explored. I think, because racism and slavery are so old, they are often though as overdone or outdated topics. However, racial profiling and discrimination is still a huge problem in the justice system today, even in Canada, and it’s not being talked about! It really surprised me that, as we all have to learn about different government systems and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in school, I’ve heard nothing about prisoner’s rights and how law enforcement is supposed to be done.  As there is very little research done about incarceration by race, I needed to go to many different websites to verify and collect all the information I needed for my display piece. That display piece is now the most comprehensive piece of data I have about American incarceration by race, which is cool because it has more information than the Wikipedia article section!

So I feel like I met or exceeded my goals for research/synthesizing information and discovering new interests. Similarly, I ended up talking to my classmates about their people and opinions, which was very engaging. Each person had so much to offer about their passions, ideas, and personalities. As we got closer and closer to Eminent night, I also think the grade tens grew closer and closer to each other, in a network of mutual support and trust. As a result, we lead and guided each other to that stage last night, where our Eminent people came to life once more. Being a part of the Eminent experience, and working alongside my peers to make the most of the night, I worked towards my IEP goal of leadership.

And now Eminent is coming to a close. We are reflecting, and blogging, and doing self-assessments. Am I going to come to Night of the Notables next year? I wouldn’t miss it for anything. Now I am excited to see what the grade nines will do, and how they will carry forth this TALONS tradition. Seeing the grade 11s at NotN reminded me that, even though Eminent is over for this year, I can come back time and again to see it continue on.

In Depth #7: Learning Centers

So, my learning center! Well… I think most likely I will be doing a presentation instead of a actual learning center, but I’m not quite sure how the sound system in the multi purpose room works. I’ll be asking around the grade ten classmates, probably Sean M., about how using the projector screen and sound for In-depth last year  worked out to figure out in more detail what it will be set up like. I’ve talked to Jackson about whether or not he is doing a presentation like mine: he is, so we can work together to figure this out. For sure I will need: (* marks something I will be bringing)

The projector and screen

* Laptop (if there is a stationary computer hooked up to the projector I will bring a USB)

Power outlet for my laptop

I need few things compared to having an actual center being set up, which is quite nice. I will try to make a finished product out of what I have filmed so far – I expect it to be like a mini-movie: basically something with most of the aspects of a movie but taking place within about 1 minute, 30 seconds. It’ll start with a 30 second or less montage I was talking about earlier, and progress onto a slow, nature-based violin piece for about 45 seconds showing a strange situation the main character had got themselves into, and with the remaining 15 seconds will turn into a quick, upbeat number only to end with a surprising twist. I need to upload all of my clips and start editing them so I can write music that will fit what’s on the screen time-wise, and I’ll have to share some of the videos outside of In-Depth night to show what I’ve been doing; while I may not post for a couple of weeks, I’ll probably upload a link to some finished video clips by late May/June depending how fast I can figure out YouTube uploading after In-Depth night. I’m looking forwards to see the projects my classmates have been working on!