Six draft pages from autumn 2013 edition of The Yoka, a publication by and for JET Program participants in Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan. I developed the color scheme from local wild flowers which I threw under the scanner.
I’ll post the finished publication when it’s released later this month.
I chose Timur Akhmetov and Yulia Yakushova's Face Your Pockets project as the first exhibition at my middle school. It’s the kind of art project I really like – a simple concept with big impact.
Since 2007, Akhmetov and Yakushova have invited people around the world to empty their pockets and bags and scan the contents along with their face. So far they’ve generated hundreds of images, each giving some clues to the lives and priorities of the person pictured. Besides college ID’s, licenses, and money, pictures of loved ones, religious icons, and stuffed animals have shown up in the photographs.
So far my students have been pretty interested and curious in the photos, frequently stopping to look and comment on them. Fortunately, they give the eyes a lot to look at. I invited them to make their own and left space for written comments, but so far it looks like they’d prefer just to look.
In October, I asked three friends of mine if they could make Thanksgiving-themed fill-in-the-blank comics for my 9th grade Japanese class. One month later, Jon Wolfe, Jeremy Sorese, and Chris Sutton, two sequential art graduates and an art history graduate from SCAD, sent me their comics.
I gave the students hand outs with the story of the first Thanksgiving and explained it in English class. Then I let them choose which ones they wanted to fill in, and had them write in Japanese. After that, I translated all their bubbles into English, and they erased their Japanese and filled them back in.
A lot of the comics wound up being pretty similar, but there were a good amount of standouts as well. I’ve put the top three up above, including the yellow one which was too inappropriate for me to put up at school. It was my favorite, as despite its craziness, it turned out to be created by one of the most mild mannered students. I never would’ve guessed.
Overall I was really happy to give the students an opportunity to let loose and was amazed at the humor and surprises they added to the comics.
With the blessing of the art teacher, I’ve carved out a spot in Kawaura Jr. High School for use as a contemporary art space. In this rural area of Japan there are few opportunities for people to see contemporary art; Besides a small local museum, the nearest art museums are over two hours away. So, I’m excited to bring more art into the students’ lives and use the space to educate them about contemporary art practices as well.
With that said, I’m calling the little space the Kawaura Art Space or 河浦展示場 and am starting to contact and look for artists to exhibit. What’s especially exciting about the space is that I can expand it greatly if need be. Right now I prepped 9’ x 6’ of wall, but it could be 12’ x 6’, 24’ x 6’ or even greater.
I put a permalink to it on here under Art Space. I can’t wait to start putting work up!
In early February I installed the work of Kari Kraus, a fabric installation artist whose process is influenced by shibori, a Japanese dying technique. To put up her work, I had to become something of an installation artist myself, re-interpreting her work for Kawachū’s unique walls. While Kari normally uses pins on dry wall, I had to work with magnets on paper-covered metal.
For the exhibition, Kari visited Kawachū as well as Shingo Elementary and together we held shibori workshops with the students. I then installed their work as part of the exhibition. Next month I’m sending the work to Kari in my hometown in the US to be reinterpreted and installed by local jr. high students. I can’t wait to see what they come up with!
Nathan Vernau. Response Ability, 2011. Colored pencil, cut paper
Tomorrow I’m putting up Little Victories, an exhibition of work by Nathan Vernau at Kawachū. He’s a favorite artist of mine, and I’m extremely excited to show his work to the school.
I spent all of today working on the show: translating Nathan’s statements about his process and symbols into 9th grade level English and then into Japanese, printing out labels and text, and so on. It’s the kind of work I love to do, especially when the artwork is so exciting.