Sally Taylor's project engaged elementary school students through art.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — With the help of Sally Taylor, Brayton, Colegrove and Greylock fifth graders tapped into their inner artist and created paintings which will act as the first dispatch in a multi-medium game of telephone.
Kidspace, located in the upper levels of Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, was alive with creation Friday morning as Taylor, artist, musician and daughter of singer-songwriters James Taylor and Carly Simon, asked students to simply react to the words fear, joy and freedom.
"I hope that they recognize that art is more than just painting. It’s everything and it’s a language," Taylor said. "It’s not a statement, and it actually never gets finished because everybody who perceives it is making up a new version of it and that reaction becomes one piece of art, whether it is a smile on someone’s face, a review or another painting."
"You don’t know how your art is going to inspire someone else."
This is the drive behind Taylor’s Consenses project, which engages artists of all mediums and asks them to interpret each other’s art – much like a game of telephone.
It can start with a photo that inspires a musician to write a song, a poet could then hear that song and be inspired to write a poem, a dancer could read that poem and then create a routine and even a perfume maker could see the dance and create a scent inspired by the dance.
Taylor said this creates an interpretive chain that generates a full vision through the procession of multiple mediums. It can target all five senses and allow a multifaceted view of the artistic process that magnifies the complexity of perception.
"We have photons hitting our eyes…we have pressure on our fingers and we have sound waves coming into our ears," Taylor said.
"We let it trickle down our neurological pathways into our brain and the brain creates the entire world that we live in so each of us is living in a completely unique world that we have created from scratch. So if we think we are not artists we have another thing coming."
The fifth graders’ art is the first link in this chain and some of their artwork will be viewed by different artists who will create a piece in their own medium inspired by the painting. This new creation will be shipped to another artist, who will be unaware of the original painting and create something else.
The fifth graders at Brayton, Colegrove, and Greylock particpated in the project.
Director of Education Laura Thompson said once the chain is complete, all of the pieces will come together and form an exhibit at Kidspace all stemming from the original painting inspired by a student’s interpretation of a specific idea.
Some of the original paintings will be part of the final exhibit.
Thompson said the project aligns with one of Kidspace’s goals - to help show students that art is an everyday experience.
"This is just another way that we reinforce this and that art can be a really good tool for them to understand their own feelings," Thompson said. "Not only in emotion, but how it is communicated through that art."
Taylor said Consenses also creates a hotbed of creativity, allowing inspiration and raw reaction to flow through the students unfiltered by judgment by others or themselves.
"There is no wrong answer as long as you are expressing your version," Taylor said. "I want to create an environment where kids can see that their voice matters and help everyone else see it in a different way. There is no judgment, there is an opportunity to be seen and say ‘this is my world welcome to it’."
Taylor said Consenses also reinforces strong communication skills where students learn not only to fearlessly express themselves but to listen to others. Also, she hopes students realize that there are not only multiple ways to look at a painting, but multiple ways to interpret everything in life.
Thompson said Consenses is part of Kidspace’s four-year plan "Art 4 Change" project where characteristics are determined that help engage problem-solving in students through art.
Last year’s exhibition was based on empathy, this year is optimism, and next year will be Taylor’s project which ties into courage.
Thompson said Savoy, Florida and Clarksburg students also created paintings and the program in its entirety is part of a 17-year partnership between Kidspace and the public schools.
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