Yesterday the Art Crew at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts spent most of the day installing the student ofrendas in the gallery. With 60 labels and a video screen that features the students’ narrative, the exhibition is now open to the public.
The exhibition will be open until Dec 4, 2011. The next event is a private party at the museum that celebrates the opening of the exhibition and honors the 60 student artists. Families and school administrators will be part of this event. Stay tuned for an update soon.
The Thomas Edison High School student artists moved out of their Spanish classrooms into the art room this week. Surrounded by potters’ wheels and ceramic objects, we have witnessed the ofrendas transform from plain wooden crates to full-fledged, beautiful, dimensional and emotional statements that honor family members, friends, and heroes.
Joseph and Jonah preparing their crates
Ka Ying and Topacio hard at work
Seeing these ofrendas in their entirety is certainly exciting. However, as the students develop their ofrendas, it is also wonderful to spend time enjoying the beauty in the details. Every detail provides greater understanding not only of the person being honored, but also of the student artist who created it from his or her own imagination.
Here are just a few of the many intriguing details!
Eyes on the world
As many of the Edison artists put the finishing touches on their ofrendas and explain the meanings of these details to each other, they are preparing to write personal statements about their works of art. These statements will help visitors to the Young People’s Ofrenda: Expressions of Life and Remebrance learn about what the many beautiful details mean to the student artists.
The exhibition opens November 1. We hope to see you at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts soon!
Edison High School students visited the MIA for tours about honoring ancestors on Wednesday, Septmeber 28. They observed details of art works ranging from a 17th-century Chinese Audience Hall, and an ancient Mexican tomb sculpture to African sculptures spanning centuries. They speculated on the meanings of the works of art and discussed how the choices made by the artists might influence their own ofrendas. The tour guides also engaged the students in conversation about two of the ofrendas made by El Colegio High School students for last year’s exhibition and introduced them to the gallery in which the ofrendas will be exhibited from November 1 to December 4.
Edison Students head to the galleries
The rich ofrenda designs created by the students back at school reflect ideas inspired by their museum visit including the use of symmetry, banners, figures on multiple levels and writing integrated with images. Their week ended in the art studio where the students began to transform their crates into unique ofrendas.
A lesson in symmetry from the ancient Egyptians
Ofrendas from last year’s exhibition inspire students
Edison student's work-in-progess
Thomas Edison High School students in Señoritas Perry and Davis’ classes explored artistic expression firsthand during Phase 2 of the project. Each student created an art work about his or her feelings, making artistic choices about color, composition and materials, which ranged from colored pencils, feathers, paper and ribbons to glitter glue, stickers and yarn. In preparation for writing artist’s statements later, the students also wrote about the choices they made for their art works and how these expressed what they were thinking about.
An Edison student at work
Señorita Davis led a lively discussion about her own obra de arte. She emphasized that student responses to her art work were equally valid as the meanings she expressed.
The Edison student artists are working on the final plans for their ofrendas and will begin filling the crates with images and symbols this week. They’ll also be coming to the MIA for a guided tour on the theme of “Honoring Ancestors.”
Edison High School students in Spanish classes with Señoritas Davis and Perry engaged in lively discussions in response to their research about Días de los Muertos and ofrendas. Students enjoyed learning that this celebration of life mocks death, and found it interesting that in Mexico celebrants eat at the graveside and that ofrendas can be made not only for family, but also for others who have died. Another discussion focused on how cool it is that everyone who has died is celebrated at the same time.
Discussion questions for Edison students
The students have also begun to write journal entries about their personal ofrendas in response to questions like “To whom do I want to dedicate this ofrenda?” and “What more would I like to know about this person or people?” As the students continue to learn more about the people they have chosen to honor, they are also beginning to turn their ideas into designs for their ofrendas.
Are you and your students following the project using the Ofrenda Teacher’s Guide? Need it in Spanish? We would love to hear how your project is going!