23 6th-grade students from Amaña school, Eibar
Teacher: Iosune Arratibel
Artist: Manu Muniategiandikoetxea
This project explored the concept of communication from the point of view of art. It explained how the artistic process, at its core, is also a process of communication that culminates when the work of art is shown and the spectator receives it.
Learning the basic elements of communication—sender, receiver, channels, etc.—was the starting point for students to develop their critical thinking through the analysis of the signs that surround them. The students explored multiple systems of communication, including verbal communication, traffic signs, nautical signals or sign language, which led them to consider the possibility of inventing other equally effective ways of transmitting information.
They took pictures of their environment, of signage, signals, and codes of all kinds. This allowed them to identify the different types and come up with new, fun codes of communication by reorganizing existing elements.
The Amaña students explained their work:
“For this project we divided into five groups. At first, we created words with foam. Then the first group colored them with spray paint. The second group invented a code with these letters. The third group drew signs with foam. The fourth wrote city names and the fifth invented sea signals.”
An Ecosystem in class
24 5th-grade students at Judimendi school, Vitoria-Gasteiz
Teacher: Jon Etxebeste
Artist: Iñaki Gracenea
This project began with the study of ecosystems and the great variety of life forms on Earth. Through painting and collage, we looked for visual ways to represent a variety of habitats and the organisms that live in them. Both urban and natural landscapes were represented in large collective murals that moved between figuration and abstraction. In the artistic recreation of the environment and its inhabitants, colors were mixed, geometric and organic shapes were used, as well as pixelated drawings and geometric blocks.
The class itself is a miniature ecosystem, a diverse community that shares a physical space where different individuals interact. It allowed them to analyze the relationships between the different components and to ask questions about living together from a different perspective. We learn to look at ourselves and others, to see what we are like, how we participate in the group and the importance of our actions within it.
The group’s teacher Jon Etxebeste summarized the experience as follows: “This year, in Learning Through Art, we worked first on the subject of ecosystems in a general manner, and then focused on our classroom as our own, special, and unique ecosystem. In so doing, we looked at the importance and the value of our relationships, and the roles we play in our small but not insignificant ecosystem: the class. A novelty for the students was to work hands-on in a way that awoke everyone’s curiosity. They did their best, had fun, but above all what stands out to me is how each person contributed equally through their work, regardless of their individual academic level.”
Two students from Judimendi speak about their experience:
“This year we did a workshop with the Guggenheim Bilbao. We learned a lot about painting and drawing, which I love; and I also stained my clothes a lot. The experience with the Guggenheim Bilbao was great.”
“This year we worked on ecosystems. We painted with our hands, with rollers, brushes, and paintbrushes. We also worked with collage, templates, pixels, and we used newspapers, photos, advertisements, plastic, wood, and strips of paper. I’d like to do this activity 10,000 times.”
20 4th-grade students at Aranbizkarra school, Vitoria-Gasteiz
Teacher: Iñaki Fernández
Artist: Jorge Rubio
We began the year analyzing the expressive potential of the shapes of letters in different alphabets, harmony, balance, and order, and experimented with them. The students looked for tags and letters in graffiti, in their surroundings. Street art is very suggestive to the students, as a way to intervene artistically in public spaces in order to surprise passers-by. Thus, they discover the importance of the creative process, considering that this type of intervention is fated to disappear. Urban art is ephemeral: in street art, the act and not the final object is what’s important, and it is subject to erosion, vandalism, etc.
The students invented different ways of “animating” inanimate objects in their environment, and were able to bring a playful, different perspective onto the objects and accidents that surround us in an urban context. They learned to take pictures, change the scale and point of view, make templates, but above all they learned to look at their surroundings in a different way.
Artist Jorge Rubio summarized the program as follows:
“This year, starting with the most basic creation (alphabets), we focused on communication, expression, understanding plurality and difference, and examined different tongues and languages. We looked at the many ways the same sign can be used, different magnitudes, intensities, intentions, wishes and desires, abilities, education… knowing that everything is valid, and anything can teach us something.”
“We also went out onto the street, making an effort to contribute different points of view, sharing our feelings and accepting an essential maxim of creation: the object is not the goal. Watching your work disappear is so inevitable that the final result shouldn’t be the motivation. I don’t know how long our interventions lasted, but by the following week they had disappeared. However, there weren’t any complaints; we were prepared, we already knew that once the work was made it wouldn’t last long. We photographed it, learned during the process, presented our work and we hope it was enjoyed by those who had the opportunity to see it.”
“Despite the contradiction of ‘making something that will disappear,’ I’m convinced that many of these little artists will look differently at what surrounds them, either with creative intentions or to discover what others show anonymously. It was a great year, and a great group. I hope they felt the same way too.”
32 2nd-grade students at Ondarreta school, Andoain
Teacher: Maxux Eceiza
Artist: Maider López
How much space do we all take up together? How do we interact with our environment and each other? How many of us are needed to fill the space of the table? What about the doorway, the stairs, or the soccer field? We adapt to each other and to space, occupying spaces that we don’t usually pay much attention to. We fill spaces with our bodies and we practice coexistence by cooperating with one another. We are part of a group; as varied and different individuals, we make up a whole that needs each one of us.
We looked for different ways to interact with our environment and classmates. How is the classroom set up? Is it for functionality? Does it lead to a better functioning of the class? How does the setup of the class condition how we move and interact? Beyond functionality, could we make different layouts of the space? What happens when the chair is on the desk, or if instead of sitting on a chair, we sat on the desk and held the chair? What would happen if we each got on to our desk and then all tried to get on one desk? In each of these situations, how are we relating to one another? We set up fun, creative dynamics that required cooperation and coordination, and worked together in unusual situations that transform the everyday routine of the class.
Maider Lopez explained the project:
“We rethought and experimented with how we sit in class and how that affects the way we interact and learn in the classroom. We changed its distribution by arranging the tables one by one, then two by two, and four by four, and then all together, creating a single table for the whole group. With each new configuration, we did different activities and saw how that affected the type of work we do and how we interact.
We filled spaces with our bodies. We changed the everyday routine of the class and became aware of our scale and our relationship to our surroundings. We adapted to one another by occupying spaces we normally don’t pay attention to, through cooperation and working all together.”
“This has been a very interesting experience for me. I found that the exercises were very enriching for the students. It has been very beneficial to them to understand the concept of space and increase their awareness of their own bodies.”
One student explained the experience:
“Three of us got into a closet and filled the whole space with our bodies. We had to mold our bodies together in order to completely fill the space. And we did the same thing in other places: in the stairways, on the basketball court, and in the goal posts of the soccer field. We had a very good time.”
22 2nd-grade students at Markonzaga school
Teacher: Leire Pinedo
Artist: Naia del Castillo
By watching videos of artists from all over the world working in their studios, the schoolchildren discovered the concept of diversity, and posed questions about the context in which each artist creates, and the differences between them in terms of age, physical appearance, origin, and gender.
One exercise was to make a portrait of a classmate: observe the shape of the eyes, hair, etc. The students then photocopied their portraits and cut them up into fragments, and mixed them up to make new faces on mirror board sheets. The viewers’ own faces reflect in the mirror, giving them a different view. In the process, students were prompted to ask themselves, “What is the color of skin?” Angelica Dass and her Pantone of over 3,000 skin tones inspired the students to photograph the diversity of their hands and create a “Pantone” book of hands in 17 different tones, which they then transferred into paintings and sculptures.
The students created performances and games to explain two opposing ideas: collaboration and rejection. The world shouldn’t be looked at from just one perspective, but from many. If you take a sheet of paper and place it in front of your eyes, you will see nothing but the paper. If you make a small hole in it, you’ll see through the paper, and if you make many small holes in it, then you’ll have a much more complete view of what lies in front of you. Each student created a sculpture in the shape of a spyglass; by putting them all together, we get a much broader view.
Naia del Castillo summarized the year as follows:
“This year, the 2nd-grade students at the Markonzaga school in Sestao and their teacher Leire, with their enthusiasm and attention, helped me create a perfect work environment, in which we combined exercises, games, and thoughts about artists such as Vermeer, Marina Abramovič, Mark Rothko, and Angelica Dass. Little by little, we were able to untangle the concept the school wanted to develop: multiculturalism.”
“We made art. I liked the whole thing. I had a great time. In the Museum we saw art and labyrinths. We played the game ME, YOU, and US. We got some very nice photographs. I’d encourage our friends to participate in an activity like this one.”
Leire Pinedo summarizes the year as follows:
“The 2nd-grade students collaborated very well on this project, and worked on multiculturalism through very different activities and mediums. We reached the objectives that were set at the beginning of the year, which included improving working as a group and the use of the Basque language. The methodology was very motivating and interactive, and fostered relations between the students. They all participated enthusiastically and really enjoyed it. It has been a great experience, and highly recommendable.”
The Robot and The Ghost
19 2nd- to 6th-grade students at La Arboleda school, Valle de Trápaga-Trapagaran
Teachers: María Begoña Pasarín and Ana María Vega Igelmo
Artist: Elssie Ansareo
What is mythology? What is a mythological character? What are its features? The stories behind these figures and their symbolic value were analyzed and debated. Students were then invited to invent their own characters. Together, they chose and agreed on the characters: a ghost and a robot. They imagined their particular features and came up with a narrative that linked them together.
A number of games were used to create the characters: automatic drawing as a tool to start creating, playful transformation of what we know and mixing diverse elements to generate hybrids, fantastic creatures and new configurations with geometric shapes. Sketches were made of what these characters might look like, and three of the almost fifty drawings were chosen. The three characters chosen by consensus were then made into a large-scale installation.
Ana Maria Vega Igelmo, a teacher at La Arboleda, defined the experience as follows:
“The children are delighted and thrilled. They learned to use different mediums and ways of doing things. Until now at the school maybe we’ve focused more on using temperas and paints, but because this project was about designing and thinking in order to do different things, the activity takes them out of their routine, out of the usual art activities. So we can see that they are super happy: they can’t wait until Friday, when Elssie comes.”
One of the students explained this experience:
“My favorite time of the workshop was when we made the robot. I loved everything we did, because I’ve learned to invent things, like a robot and a ghost, with all of their traits and their stories. Ramón the Robot likes to play tennis and poker, he builds homes, lives in a castle and dances sevillanas. And he’s good friends with the ghost. The robot lives in China and the ghost in La Arboleda.”