SKILLBUILDERS

PROJECTS

REFLECTIONS

Reflection 1

11/4/2021

The prompt I chose was “tell me about a time when you found something”. I chose this prompt because I wanted to encapsulate a memory that’s just for me. I used to be alone a lot as a kid. My mom was always working and she and my pops were separated. My brother was also 4 years older than me- which when you think about it is like a whole school ahead of me which meant he was doing teenage things. Then I lived in an apartment in a bad neighborhood so not many friends came over- especially after I told them that I was robbed of video games by kids in the community. So that kind of left me to my own devices which meant creating adventures for myself which led to me looking for “treasures” outdoors.

For these reasons that’s why I chose to show a lot of nature. Since I was so often wandering around the apartment grounds, I would be interacting and influenced by the plants, grass, and trees.

At the time I always felt nervous that people would find me just walking around in my imaginary world but now I think it reinforced my creative self in many ways. So instead of making myself feel odd and shameful about it I created the composition to have a bird’s eye view- as if I was found while finding something. Since I lived in apartments, I wanted it to feel like somebody looking over their balcony at me discovering this really cool stick that would become my “sword” on my “adventure”. 

However, since it’s such an esoteric experience and memory it was not easily conveyed to my peers. With much of their feedback in mind, I made revisions but only on my final piece. 

Thanks to that feedback I was able to reexamine a composition that would more clearly illustrate the idea of finding an object. I don’t typically use bird’s eye view so that felt good to stretch. I thought about the framing in terms of layers that I built from the ground up to the stick. 

I received a lot of good feedback about how I made the plants appear 3d on a flattened 2d plane- so that was encouraging because I took a risk trying something new and it landed well.  

Aside from all of that, what I found most challenging was choosing colors for the depiction of myself. I definitely didn’t want it to look like me since I was able to kind of play with my appearance. 

 

bird’s-eye view. a view from a high angle as if seen by a bird in flight.

(some use of) complementary colors. Colors opposite one another on the color wheel. Red/green, blue/orange, and yellow/violet are examples of complementary colors.

design. The plan, conception, or organization of a work of art; the arrangement of independent parts (the elements of art) to form a coordinated whole.

emphasis. Special attention given to an element to make it stand out.

focal point. The place in a work of art on which attention becomes centered because of an element emphasized in some way. 

form. A three-dimensional volume or the illusion of three dimensions (related to shape, which is two-dimensional); the particular characteristics of the visual elements of a work of art (as distinguished from its subject matter or content).

mood. The state of mind or feeling communicated in a work of art, frequently through color.

organic. Refers to shapes or forms having irregular edges or to surfaces or objects resembling things existing in nature.

perspective. A system for representing three-dimensional objects viewed in spatial recession on a two-dimensional surface.

primary colors. Refers to the colors red, yellow, and blue.

texture. The surface quality of materials, either actual (tactile) or implied (visual). It is one of the elements of art.

 

 

The planning sheet helped me to prepare. I really loved having access to student examples, that definitely helped me synthesize some ideas together and focus on clarity in approaching my final piece. I think the prompts are general enough to make students think deeply about their experiences without the teacher necessarily guiding them to go deep or shallow. 

And with visuals and techniques, I had to make sure that everything I cut would not only look correct in 3d and standing up but also that when I laid it down it would look believable in 2d. (Which is about as complicated as it sounds). I used artist tac to play with the compositions spatially and for scale before gluing everything down. 

I received feedback from JP, Sarah deMartini, Dani Pena, and my team members Annie and Marisela. I got similar feedback from all of them: “looks like you lost something”, “looks like croissant or teeth”, “looks like swinging on a vine”. All of this comments told me that what I had made and was trying to convey was not immediately recognizable.

If I were to teach this project, I might allow a limited number of mark-making that students can do. I might allow ink pens, markers, or colored pencils but with the caveat that it must be limited and intentional. Since some students may have a difficult time cutting (with scissors but especially an Exacto knife or a straight razor) I think allowing them to depict something with drawing would make it more accessible without completely diminishing the required skill-building of cutting, layering, and collaging inherent in the lesson plan. 

Reflection 2

I used the WiFi symbol which is a universal symbol (a form of visual literacy) for the internet across most countries (though I decided to focus solely on the United States) to represent the importance of online accessibility during the pandemic. I used an American flag as many eyes were on the U.S. as we scrambled to align ourselves to tackle the pandemic. I used a backpack and a desk to communicate learning/teaching/education. And I used a laptop/PC to communicate how having a computer doesn’t necessarily mean you have the same access as other people do in other parts of the country or the world.

I went into this project wanting to explore the pros and cons of online education during the pandemic. I wanted to challenge my own personal belief that learning online is beneficial. However, what I found was a good reason for my opposition to be worried about the quality of education the students across America were receiving. What I discovered, whether for or against online learning, the common thread seemed to be: did students have access to high-quality, reliable internet? I was shocked to learn that not only were people protesting the validity of contagion within the COVID-19 virus but that they were doing so in cities and states of privilege- where they could comply with mandates, work from home and stay out of public places, and to some degree see little to no change in their lives apart from the irrational fear of not being able to do whatever they want. For example, access to great internet connection is more likely in Los Angeles, California than Chicago, Illinois- both in the United States, both experiencing education during the pandemic totally differently (HRW, 2021). 

What I really wanted to do was analyze the series of failures to act by the Trump presidency and how that really made a lot of people suffer needlessly in a time of great fear of the unknown and how all of these things ultimately funneled down to affecting the most vulnerable people in our society. Nevertheless, moving forward I’d like to think these 3 pieces would accompany an article on the viability of online learning, with the benefit of hindsight, and how more classes could be tailored toward this type of learning and how at the heart of it, for me, is about access and equity, even 2nd chances for those who weren’t able to graduate from high school or those who can’t be in a classroom environment because of other life situations. This was offered to some degree prior to the pandemic but, I believe that a government, regulated internet as a utility could be the solution to making life-long learners and a better-educated citizenry. 

What I first learned was that there were more states in this country that were still not able to have access to high-quality, reliable internet. In “Students’ Internet Access Before and During the Coronavirus Pandemic by Household Socioeconomic Status“ for the National Center for Education Statistic the author writes, “While internet access is nearly universal in the United States (95 percent of all 3- to 18-year-olds had access in 2019), not all families access the internet the same way. Specifically, 88 percent had access through a computer,3 and 6 percent relied on a smartphone for their home internet access” (George et al., 2021). I learned about the issue of the internet as a government-regulated utility as early as 2017, unfortunately, it started being conflated with government control and censorship of the internet so it quickly turned into a slippery slope argument during the Trump era presidency. Relegating this topic to a kind of non-issue quickly began to surface as a matter of great importance when our entire way of life was flipped upside down in early 2020 with the COVID19/ Coronavirus pandemic (Los Angeles Times, 2020) . American citizens of all ages discovered just how essential internet access has become to the American way of life, in school, work, and social settings, when all previous modes of in-person activity had to shift to purely digital ones.  

It would seem that Americans are incapable of dealing with multiple large issues at once, or thinking one large issue is a distraction from another large issue, or worse yet, that there isn’t a problem so nothing needs to be done, and that American law and policy work for all of its citizens. 

 

As mentioned before the symbolic imagery and visuals are used were the WiFi symbol, the American flag, a laptop/computer, a backpack, a desk and the juxtaposition of primary colors usually associated with lighter topics instead used here to satirize. The reason I chose these images and visuals The image with the purple background represents perhaps the darkest tonal shift of the triptych. The screen of the computer is muddy and the mathematical symbol for “not equal to” appears. The white void of the background and the child-like use of primary colors (made using a low-tech printmaking method, etched on styrofoam plates, widely used in K-12) with the juxtaposition of big bold words of “NOT CONNECTED” written in a menacing red are all portrayed in conjunction in order to illustrate how children (or more broadly, students) have suffered by not only not being able to make schoolyard friends and often times not being able to get the type of quality education because lack of support and resources but also from a disconnected government who failed to act on their behalf as we likely enter into 2022 as the 3rd year of COVID-19, despite a change in presidency. The green and yellow which is emblematic of the heartland of America. The loose watercolor of the flag is a play on the phrase “these colors don’t run”, as it’s my belief that this country is in desperate need to embrace fluidity rather than the facade of a solid-state that it presents. The WiFi symbol replacing the stars of the American flag represents how in the 21st century the internet both has the power to connect and divide- though my personal belief is that it holds more positively and closer to the former.  

Forethought was a skill that I had to really utilize for this project. Since working on these 3 pieces was split between working with at-home materials and a required lab play session, I had to make sure that what I was using in the classroom would work well with what I already had finished with what was available to me. This meant careful color choices and appropriate application of the gelli printing and suminagashi printing methods. With that said, suminagashi was the skill I felt I most benefitted from learning. I chose some rather bizarre color combinations and chose not to agitate the water very much upon dipping the substrate into the ink, so it gave me a very subtle interaction which I found really enjoyable. Since I knew I’d be using these methods for backgrounds I was trying to at least do something effective and usable with my attempts. I have been familiar with printmaking but always really strayed away from it because of how expensive the equipment can be and how much space the materials can take up. This is important to me because I have limited funds and limited space and the way styrofoam printmaking gives it’s user an easy access point.The 2D methods I used were suminagashi, gelli printing and styrofoam printing. I used printmaking ink, watercolor, and acrylic paint because I wanted to have varying degrees of saturation and texture in my colors.  I really loved the texture I got from the styrofoam printmaking method which I found to be the most successful. This especially appeals to me as I feel there is too much emphasis on high craft and high art and even though it’s not especially good for the environment, the accessibility is very important to me in terms of who can do what and who can be an artist. I don’t ever want money to be a factor in why some people feel like they can’t invest in becoming an artist or in making art. I would say the most challenging thing for me was dealing with the flimsiness of the styrofoam and it’s printing method. Though I really enjoyed this process I think having very sharp xacto knives is a must have as cutting into the medium can cause fraying which makes subtracting portions of the piece kind of frustrating. I can say I took the most time making several prints for this reason.

As an illustrator, it was incredibly helpful to have articles to work from and some new methods to use could help me synthesize my previous skills with newly acquired skills.  Since most of this project was done at home I didn’t receive too much feedback. But I was working on portions of it when Annie Myers, Dani Pena, and Mariana Reyes were working on theirs near me. Dr. Taylor also complimented me on my suminagashi which was very encouraging. I really enjoyed this project so I don’t think that I would change anything about it. My own challenge for this project however was limiting myself to themes in 3’s- three colors, three objects, three methods, so I might add a limitation or gimmick like that to get students to practice more forethought before executing their art. It’s my hope that despite the great challenges that everybody faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers, and administrators can see the benefits of online education  (Editor, 2021) provided that there is equitable access to high-speed reliable internet, and that lobbying the government to reconsider the internet as a utility having seen the immense reliance it plays in everyone’s lives as evidenced by the massive amount of citizens who had to work from home and received their education online.















 

Works Cited

 

George, D. S., Strauss, V., Meckler, L., Heim, J., & Natanson, H. (2021, March 15). How the pandemic is reshaping education. The Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2021, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2021/03/15/pandemic-school-year-changes/. 

"Years don't wait for them". Human Rights Watch. (2021, May 17). Retrieved December 7, 2021, from https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/05/17/years-dont-wait-them/increased-inequalities-childrens-right-education-due-covid#:~:text=The%20125%2Dpage%20report%2C%20%E2%80%9C,on%20learning%20during%20the%20pandemic. 

Editor, N. C. E. S. B. (2021, September 20). NCES blog. IES. Retrieved December 7, 2021, from https://nces.ed.gov/blogs/nces/post/students-internet-access-before-and-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic-by-household-socioeconomic-status. 

Los Angeles Times. (2020, October 23). Column: The pandemic makes clear it's time to treat the internet as a utility. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 7, 2021, from https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-10-23/coronavirus-internet-is-a-utility. 

(Los Angeles Times, 2020)