This week I decided to collaborate with one of my graduate classes on the project. They are a great class and, as my gran would have said, keen as mustard, willing to try new practices and challenge their thinking. I began the class with some drawing exercises; the kind that produce giggles and help ease away fears about drawing ‘well’. I wanted the class to create gestural marks and encouraged the students to move their body in different ways to play with scale, to draw through different temporalities and to encourage them to notice the materiality of the tools and drawing surfaces.
The exercises helped prepare the class conceptually for looking at the walkinglab.org website and my previous residency postings. I think perhaps some were still a little perplexed despite doing the drawing exercises but the class showed a curiosity for the work and what my intentions were. I explained how I created the drawings and what I paid attention to as I made them and explained that we would work together to produce works.
We took a walk to a green space that is situated at the main entrance to the campus. It was late morning so the area was reasonably busy with students travelling between classes and heading to lunch. Before we left the studio I explained to the class that I wanted them to find a tree and lay under it on their back. Without looking at the paper they were to find some way of holding it to draw on while looking up at the tree canopy and create gestural mappings of the moving edges of leaves, branches, clouds, blossom, and shadows. The paper was thin and they had no hard surface to lean on so the task was fraught with difficulty, however it made the materials highly present in the event.
I wasn’t sure how my class would deal with my request given the presence of so many other people around however they lay under the trees, trying not to put holes in their paper as they scratched and mapped away. Afterwards we walked back to the studio.
The chance to walk and draw differently is playful and pedagogic. The students were prepared to engage in a drawing performance and become a momentary spectacle, and they were prepared to suspend their ideas about how drawings are made. In so doing they also willingly participated in a pedagogic encounter with walking, mapping and movements.
This posting contains a greater number of images to include everyone’s drawings.