Saturday, May 7, 2016

Introducing Medusa (again!)

Artwork by the incredibly talented Sean Baptist
Springtime may be synonymous with showers and flowers but in first grade it is also the time we enter into the world of Gods and Goddesses courtesy of the Greek myths.

I always begin with the story of Medusa and Perseus. It is the best hook in the world because it has suspense, wild imagery, and clearly drawn lines of good and evil (that I love to blur and question as we proceed).

The myths allow for interesting discussions about the evolution of story and visual ownership over one's imagination. I always encourage the children to create an image of Medusa - based upon my barebones description embedded within the adventure - before I supply them with any other artist's renderings.

Medusa through the eyes of first graders

Their drawings show that children are not afraid to tackle the demons lurking under the bed or out there in the dark somewhere. In fact, the darker their illustrations are the more they seem to enjoy them.  Children chuckle as they add details such as sharp teeth, menacing eyes and wild hair. They laugh as they view pictures created by other children and gasp with open-mouthed smiles when we show them how other artists have portrayed Medusa.

This year I was talking with Sean Baptist, one of the teaching artists we work with from The Children's Museum of the Arts, and Sean was very excited to add his take on our Greek Gods, Goddesses, heroes and monsters.

Every week Sean has a new piece of art to share with us. He started with Medusa (see above) and so far has given us a befuddled Cyclops and a smiling Hercules surrounded by several of his labors. His art is a big hit with the kids and I plan to frame each one to use year after year.

An exciting offshoot of all of this is that Sean and I are planning to partner on a children's book. His sensibilities as an artist fit perfectly with how I envision my story so I really look forward to our collaboration.

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