Where does art end up in the elementary school? Often it is stuck in rows in school hallways or matted and pinned to temporary art exhibition boards for special community events. These display methods mirror the salons of European academies, urban galleries, and national museums. There other kinds of places that are appropriate for display as well.
Right now in my practice I am looking for other contexts in which to place art.
Every new year, our kindergartners work and play in a complex world of make believe that parallels our adult agendas. After hearing a lot of talk about fairies, I asked them if there were any on the playground. After a conversation or two, I found out that not only is there an active fairy life, but it is usually located in a specific place.
One year, students wanted to make homes for their fairies. I offered them unfired clay and pieces of nature from the school grounds. After the homes were built, students placed them under the fairy tree of their choice. They all choose a large evergreen tree at the edge of the playground.
The Final Village
Another year, students talked about a tree where the fairies lived up high in the branches. We couldn’t fit homes in the branches, so I asked them if they wanted to make presents for them and hang them from the branches. We fired our clay this time and tied them to the tree. Among the presents were toys, food, blankets, clothing, cars, animals, and jewels.