Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ephemeral Art Projects

Last winter, I was introduced to the breathtaking works of artist Andy Goldsworthy.  Mr. Goldsworthy creates what is called ephemeral art from the materials he finds in nature.  He is inspired by what he sees around him, by the seasons, by the light, by the weather, by the natural world.   He creates incredible works of art from nature and them leaves them to the elements to do with what they will. 

In March, inspired by Playful Learning's Mariah Bruehl, I checked out some of his books from our local library and encouraged my girls to start making their own Andy Goldsworthy-inspired ephemeral art projects on the coffee table inside a sand-filled shadow box.  My girls poked some sticks, rocks and shells into the sand, but didn't really seem to care too much about the project.  Finally, I got sick of vacuuming sand up off the floor, I put the project away and, quite honestly, felt a little disappointed.  

Then, I stumbled upon this film and thought, "Oh, surely this will inspire them!"  and promptly ordered it from Netflix.  It is an incredible film that documents some of Mr. Goldsworthy's projects.  My girls were amazed by the painstaking process that the artist takes with each work.  They felt his pain as a work fell apart after hours of effort.  Then, they simply couldn't believe that many of his works are simply washed away by the elements and all that remains is a photograph of the astonishing creation.  "So, it's just gone, Mama?  That is so sad."  Nothing else was mentioned.  At all. 

We hadn't made any additional attempts at ephemeral art projects of late, but the other night we had some friends over for dinner and all four children (ages 4-10) were playing outdoors on our back deck while the other mother and I were catching up.  Suddenly, it was quiet.  I don't know about you, but that quiet that happens when a group of children are playing produces a bit of anxiety.  It can mean one of three things; 1) some "undesirable" activity is underway that is going to require a lot of clean-up, 2) the children have ventured into another yard while chasing some sort of critter and need to be recalled or 3) they are completely engaged and creating something really special...

Ephemeral Art Project by saraheliz1525

Ephemeral Art Project, a photo by saraheliz1525 on Flickr.

It just goes to show you that children are always working on new ideas,  integrating what they've been exposed to with what they see in their day-to-day lives.  I had thought all of my attempts at inspiring my daughters with Andy Goldsworthy's work was for naught, but this just goes to show you that it wasn't.  They just needed some time and space to work on it on their own before inspiration could set in.  As these works blew away with a storm that night, there was no sadness, just an appreciation for the time spent with friends working on a creative project.

Warms a mama's heart...

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