Excavation mark!

Eureka! I've dug and sorted down to the surface of my art table! I'm so excited, I'm punctuating with what my little students call "excavation marks".

The haystacks and landslides of collage materials had reached the point where creative work at the table was impossible. I'm intrigued by the ratios of structure and chaos needed to promote learning and creativity. That's one reason I chose to work as a Montessori class assistant this year.

My theory so far is that learning happens best in an uncluttered, structured situation free of emotional stress. We master stringing beads. We match the colored nuts and bolts. We listen to the stories while we sit in the safety of a parent's lap.

Imagination, pretend play, and creativity require somewhat more flexibility, I think. They need the freedom to pull materials from more than one drawer. Building a Braums ice cream store may require using the wooden blocks, the Hot Wheels cars, AND the play dishes.

Art uses learning's structure and imagination's flexibility. Art adds in the analytic process to observe and compose. It requires an uncluttered mind for this analysis. It demands the discipline to master materials to depict, represent, and communicate the observed, analyzed, and composed material. At the artist's best moments, it feels like pure, uncluttered child's play flowing out onto the page.

Just like child's play, the excitement of creation may leave one too tired to clean up the mess. And so, the mess has been blocking artistic play. When I can't make art, I get depressed. Too depressed to tackle the mess. It's an ugly pit to be in, and so I share my progress with the excavation.

Archimedes is supposed to have exclaimed,"Eureka! I've found it!," when he suddenly understood buoyancy in the bathtub back in ancient Greece, as we East High Spartans learned years ago. I exclaimed the same in Target when I found the Sterlite stacking 12 x 12 inch three-drawer units for $2.48!

© 2007 Nancy L. Ruder

1 comment:

Genevieve said...

There's a happy medium somewhere between having too big of a mess to work in and having everything so well filed that you hate to make a mess. I swing between the two extremes in my sewing room. When I really get to sewing, it can get pretty messy.


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