Found Art


A couple days ago I went to one of the elementary schools where I teach. The kids are great. Elementary school kids restore my faith in humanity because they are polite, eager to please, willing, attentive. Junior High kids are a whole different kettle of fish. I’ll address this some other time. Suffice it to say, I can’t figure out exactly why there must be such a profound change in such a short amount of time. Recently we had to get out the Big Guns in the form of Miss Montez at the Junior High where I teach After School. Miss Montez is the head of the After School Program. Miss Montez got game. She got the Power. Another blog. Another time.

Let’s go back to the Elementary school.

So I asked for volunteers as I usually do. And as usual nearly all the hands in the class shot up. I’m amused to see that they want to volunteer almost more than they want to do the project. So I picked a couple kids to pass out the newsprint. Everybody gets one sheet I said. In two minutes one of the kids came back and showed me this.


In amongst the newsprint they were passing out here was this unfinished drawing I had done. Apparently, I completely forgot about it. It was pretty good. I held it up and then the teacher glommed on to it and decided he needed to put it up on the wall. It’s big. Like 24 inches by 36 inches. I was a little embarrassed but I decided to make it a teaching moment to show how shadows don’t have to be Black. I showed them how I made the shadows out of a combination of brown and purple. How cool colors recede and warm colors come forward. That’s enough. They’re third graders, by gum.

I like to show people who would normally think literally and show them that they can think outside the box. I hope this leaks over into other areas of their lives.

Seeking Inspiration

My elementary school kids have been having a lot of fun doing “cave paintings”.



I told them not to use scotch tape on their drawings but some of them didn’t listen. Hey, Picasso didn’t always use archival methods for his masterpieces. So I let it go or peeled it off where I could.

The other day I couldn’t sleep after the election. I laid awake in bed worrying. How would I deal with my Junior High kids? I live in a predominantly Hispanic area. As a matter of fact, I was going to write a blog about how it feels to be a minority. I felt this long ago when I first went to Hawaii from Iowa and in my World History class in a huge auditorium I sat in the back. Before me was a sea of black haired people. In Iowa one would never see this. We had a handful of Jewish, one black family and one Chinese family. In Hawaii that was all upside down with Chinese, Japanese, and Pacific Islanders.

Here in Madera it’s the same. In the classes you have all Hispanic except for maybe one white kid.

So I laid awake. Finally I figured out that it was me who needed help the most. And by helping myself maybe I could deal with the uncertainty. I decided that we would draw heroes. I decided that I needed to remind myself that we’ve been here before. And we’ve had people who stand up in the avalanche in the hopes of slowing it down. All is not lost. And there is work to be done.

I found Muhammad Ali, Malama Yousefzai, Martin Luther King, Dolores Huerta, Mother Teresa, Anne Frank and a host of others.



The kids appreciated it and it sure was good for me, too.