Monthly Archives: November 2015

Genuine Art collaboration brings magic to a school

The Montessori School in Madison, a creative hub promoting interactive learning and artistic self-expression in young children, is a magical place.

I recently spent a morning there, surrounded by a group of delightful five- and six-year-olds, my collaborators on a project called Genuine Art, which brings together artists and children with the mandate to produce a collaborative piece of art on a specific theme every year. The artwork is then catalogued, exhibited and put up for sale at a silent auction in April, with the proceeds benefiting the school’s scholarship fund.

This year’s theme is Home, Sweet Home. Since the children have been studying Mongolia, I thought they might enjoy creating a miniature replica of a ger, the traditional yurt used by Mongolian nomads as they travel through the steppe with their herds of horses, sheep, goats, camels, yaks and cows.

 

Mongolian ger

Mongolian ger

 

Inside the ger

Inside the ger

While I created the framework it was the children who decorated the inside of the ger and placed the animals on the moss-covered platform around it. One student put the lone sheep behind the ger, facing the back of the tent. When I commented on the fact that this constituted uncharacteristic behavior for a sheep, the girl who had put him there said, with a smile: “He isn’t behaving.”

Working with children enchants me because they respond positively to my enthusiasm, spontaneity and, occasionally, eccentric comportment (just like the aforementioned sheep). In my travels I have taught English to Italian children in Belgium, French to American kindergarteners in New Jersey, and conducted cross-cultural training programs for the children of international assignees. In each setting I incorporated art, crafts, music, even dancing to engage the students. Why should learning be a drag?

The beauty of the Genuine Art project resides in its role as agent of transformation–not only for the children who gain a different perspective from their interaction with artists;  artists, too, learn a thing or two, or even three, from listening to the students and observing the dynamics in the room. So do teachers and the parents who volunteer to help. It is a grand and lofty undertaking, one that culminates in awarding scholarships to families who would otherwise be unable to send their children to this school.

Stay tuned to find out what my young collaborators will be doing in the next session, which is scheduled to take place in the New Year, after my brain surgery.

 

 

 

Open letter to my favorite particles

Dear maman,

It has been one year since you left our mundane world for another, mysterious one where particles assemble and disassemble, convene and  confer, creating new life as they travel through time and space. I don’t know what form you have taken–vegetal, animal, mineral–but I’m sure it befits you and your love of nature.  What I do know is that, despite your elusiveness, you are still present in my daily life and therefore, I surmise, up-to-date on the latest developments at this end.

But just in case you missed something in the course of your metaphysical meanderings, here is a brief recap:

In four weeks I will have brain surgery (Deep Brain Stimulation), the very surgery I could not contemplate a few months ago. But it is time. I am ready.  I have complete faith in my neurosurgeon’s skills (a surgeon who admits to being ‘anal’ when it comes to finding the precise location in which to implant the electrodes is exactly the kind of surgeon I want poking around my brain).

The questions I ask myself these days have to do with my creative self.  For example, will I be able to paint in the same style after I am wired? As my motor skills improve (and that’s a good thing), will my creativity wane? In short, when all the hardware is installed, will I still be an artist?

I certainly hope so. If not, I have alternative plans. I can become a ski instructor. Or an alphorn player.  Or I could  learn how to make macarons and then sell them at the Short Hills Mall for a fortune–but not a cookie.

I am painting like a madwoman, as if my creative juices were in danger of vanishing.

Ostrich © 2015 Monique Hendricks

Ostrich © 2015 Monique Hendricks

Owl © 2015 Monique Hendricks

Owl © 2015 Monique Hendricks

Penguin © 2015 Monique Hendricks

Penguin © 2015 Monique Hendricks

Farewell, dear maman.  Until next time.

Your daughter, or, as you always called me, your filly.