Saturday, March 17, 2012

Art That Appeals to Teenagers

Musical Mandala by Susanne Clark 2006

Every year I get quite a few emails from young high school students.  They have somehow found me on the web when looking for an artist’s work to do their end of year art exam project on.  It’s the musical work that seems to capture their interest and I find the same thing when I exhibit at outdoor art shows.  Young people and teenagers are immediately attracted to the work and bring their parents to see it.

When the students write they ask me a lot of questions about my technique, what inspired me and usually how long it takes me to create one of my pieces.  They seem to love the colour and vibrancy of the work and the fact that the Musical Paintings are not a literal copy of an instrument but something more exciting.  I spend quite a lot of time try and answer all their questions and usually add that I would love it if they would send me a picture of some piece of artwork that they have done as part of their exam.  Sometimes I get a nice reply with a thank you and a photo, other times just a thank you and sadly sometimes no response at all.

Last year I was contacted by Becky Sharpe, a 5th grade elementary teacher from Georgia in the US, who wanted to do an art project lasting several months using my musical works as a focus.  I was chosen because as she said “My students asked me if there were any artists who were still alive.  I looked at my curriculum and sure enough, all the artists I was highlighting were … well … dead!  From that point on I’ve made it a practice to seek out contemporary artists whenever possible”.

As the project went ahead I really enjoyed getting updates from Becky and some emails from the children. The final event was a combined art/ poetry jam.  The children created a poem to go with their musical instrument piece and they invited the adults in the school to come to the exhibit. I was extremely honored to have had my art chosen to be the inspiration for the project!

Becky also sent me some of the poetry pieces that they had written but I have chosen to focus on the artwork in this blog.  I think they did some really fun work and I hope they are inspired to continue creating. 
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