Urban Arts Academy -  Ms. Katie – 2.5 hours     

Minneapolis Institute of Art - Margaret Werheim - 5 hours

Urban Arts Academy. I had my second week of helping out at Urban Arts. I was in the same classroom as last week, which was Katie's classroom with students who were Kindergarten to second grade. I was a lot more comfortable in the classroom this week as I was familiar with most of the students, and they knew me. 

Katie had planned for a after school activity for the students creating sculptures with recycled toys. I helped her by getting the room set up before the students came back from school. After they came back they ate some snacks, and some started doing their homework as others were playing. Katie told all the students that they had 20 minutes of free quiet time, after which we were going to conduct our activity. In this time, I read a book to one of the students, who was very engaged and excited about the book. I enjoyed reading the book to him too, as I wasn't familiar with some of the American classic stories for children. As I started reading more I realized that he wasn't familiar with some of the vocabulary so I started breaking words down to explain him. I thought his was a good learning process for me as I started paying close attention to the content of the reading and my way of delivering the story.

Katie's activity addressed the students making sculptures from recycled toys. Each student was given a shoe box to contain their sculptures.  There was one community box full of old toys. Each student was limited to using 7 toys from the box. There was also sticker paper, colorful paper and other materials for their use. I thought it was interesting that she set up limitations for them. I believed this helped them to really think about what they wanted to do with their sculptures as well as to make choices from so many other great toys. She also gave them all one keyboard which was broken, and taught them how to take off the keys. Katie and I were in charge of helping them glue their pieces using a glue gun. 

As  always there were some students who were really excited to start the project. And some who wanted to do other activities. When two of the girls made really cute sculptures that acted like a narrative story from the toys they selected, other students wanted to try the activity too. They used the keyboard keys really creatively. I thought Katie did a good job of using the resources they had to plan the activity. Everyone's projects turned out great! The next day they were going to paint over their sculptures. I was happy to be a part of it, and to see such lovely projects happen!

Minneapolis Institute of Art. I had my first week of working at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts.  On Thursday, January 29, I attended an artist talk by Margaret Werheim. More information about the talk can be found here. I was thrilled when Krista my supervisor wanted me to help with Margaret's project.

Margaret is a science writer, and she is the co-creator along with her twin sister Christine of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project. After hearing her talk, I had many questions like: How does she inform the community members that in spite of the fact that they are creating art the idea is of a much greater concern (like global warming in Margaret's context). How does she engage the community members in her project? How do they learn and come together for this cause? 

I helped out with two workshops on the same day, one of them was held in Bloomington Center for the Arts and the other one was in MIA. Margaret started her workshop by giving a presentation about her project, as well as the idea of how science and art are influencing each other. She also clearly presented some of the math equations and explained how what we were about to make was like a diagram of mathematical theories. The public was engaged in the presentation and she received a lot of questions. 

MIA is going to be a part of Margaret's Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project. They are planning to have a show with all the crocheting work made by people from Minneapolis. They are planning to have these workshops and get more people together to crochet. Margaret conducted five workshops while she was in Minneapolis to get the ball rolling. I was a part of two of these workshops, and I helped with signing up and getting people set up.  

It was interesting to also notice how the learning styles changed from both the workshops. The first one at Bloomington was a relatively smaller group with 10-12 people who were all women. After the end of her presentation she asked if there are people who doesn't know how to crochet (I was one of them). We sat together in a smaller circle, and had some great conversations about religion, science and how they are conceptually related to each other's developments. Margaret went around the room and was checking in with everyone and teaching them crochet. There was also a MCAD Alumni present, who was amazing at crocheting who taught and assisted everyone. Margaret learned a new kind of stitch from her, and I thought it was interesting how this exchange of learning and teaching can form connections in people instantly. The crocheting activity itself is a great one for communities to come together with an objective and have conversations at the same time. The second workshop was at MIA which was much larger with around 12-16 people. Since the group was larger we broke people into smaller groups with each group having at least one person who knew how to crochet. The learning experience in a crochet activity is direct, one can see when one has learned the new skill. I thought it was interesting how people with different interests came together for the same cause. For example some of people were interested in the environmental issue of the project, some were interested in the crocheting part of the project. The people were so engaged in the activity that they waited even longer after the workshop ended to keep crocheting. I'm excited to see how the start of this Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project in Minneapolis expands, and excited to see the work that comes out of it and the connections that people are making though it.