Monday, June 10, 2013

piles

One of the things that I love about the end of the school year is the art, writing, and other work that comes home with the kids on each of the final days of school.  As the teachers take things off the bulletin boards, as the school art gallery closes, as the halls of school get emptied, the work comes home in backpacks, crumpled in pockets, and in their hands as they walk towards me at the end of the school day.

It is another reminder that things are ending and changing.

Yes, we have received items off and on all year, but this is the good stuff.  The stuff that was hanging in the art gallery for the school art show.  The longer term projects.  The books created by their teachers of their self portraits, one for each month of the school year.

And hidden within each of these pieces is often a story.


Julia's Watts Tower


Elliott's red winged blackbird wings


Nicholas' comic strip



Elliott's Louise Nevelson sculpture


 Julia's paper doll set


 Elliott's winter self portrait


Julia's maritime study ship painting


Nicholas' artist cards


Julia's poem about her lovey, ZZ


Nicholas' loom weaving

Like this one.  The weaving that Nicholas did as a part of his study of immigration and mills in the United States during the Industrial Revolution.  He was most drawn to the story of the workers, of their struggles, of their stories and how they came to be in this country and working in the mills.  This piece is woven with a good deal of Nicholas' thinking all that through, trying to makes sense of it, being a bit troubled by it, all worked in.


Or Elliott's most prized possession, the one he wants to hang in his room.  The class' number line, counting the school days.  He is very excited that he got the 100th day on his section, a day they celebrated with silly 100 paper eye glasses, their eyes looking out through the zeros.  It is not my favorite item of his to come home, but it is certainly one he will protect and save.


Or this one, an embroidered clown.  Julia had to remind me that the reason she had chosen a clown as her embroidery subject was that she had chosen to be a clown for the movie they created, acted in, and produced this year.  This clown represents a good deal of growth and development for Julia.  Julia at age 5 would never have put on a green wig and clown makeup and then have flitted shyly across the screen.


Some of the art will be displayed here and there about the house.  Julia's ship painting will join Nicholas' on the wall and they will wait for Elliott's to join them in a few years.  The kids will tuck their sculptures on shelves in their room and put their writing journals on their nightstands and add to them.  And late at night, when no one is watching me, I will pull out certain items, such as the scraps of paper left over from cutting out the blackbird wings, that were saved for some future use that never happened.  Or the seven failed attempts at the same drawing.  I will tuck these items down deep in the recycling bin.  This weeding process is much easier to keep a secret in the winter with the aid of the wood stove.

I have a bin for each child upstairs, and each year I create three piles on the cabinet, one for each.  I am noticing that Elliott, our youngest, has a pile that is much larger than Julia's and that Nicholas' is even smaller.  Most of Elliott's pile is actual representational art, pictures, drawings, and three dimensional creations.  Julia's pile has some of these things, too, but classroom published writing and journaling is more prominent in her pile, the writing taking as much space as her visual work.  And then Nicholas' pile is in some ways the smallest pile and the smallest window into the work he did this year.  So much of what happened for him, and for anyone this age, seemed to be taking place internally, inside his mind, as he began to draw connections, to question, and to wonder.

And the piles will sit there, on the cabinet, for a few weeks.  I add to them as I clean out their rooms, from the piles in the kitchen, finding little treasures in the bill bin or in small pockets in their back packs.  And then eventually I begin the arduous and emotional task of keeping what I feel is important, what I think will stand the test of time and not decay or fall apart (tape art looses its stick and playdoh decomposes).  I also try to think through what, once time has stripped away some of its sentimental meaning (that they drew it while I sat next to them on their first day of school, or that it seemed to show something they were struggling with at that time), I will want to keep or to give back to them.

I am creating the piles this week.  Then I will begin the work of attempting to become less attached.  To view each item in terms of what it will mean to us in the future rather than what it means to us right now in the swirl of change and ending and moving forward.

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