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What is an Artist?

In the beginning of Mentor Artist Ascha Drake’s 5th grade residency at Hall Middle School, she asked students: What is an artist?  A mind map they created is pictured here alongside a student creating a colonial book.

Students realized through this mapping that an artist is brave, an artist can work with the body, words, musical notes, paint, drawing materials…They realized that an artist expresses the self and transforms space and materials.  The students then embarked on a series of classes focusing on creating Colonial Books.  The books began as accordion books, but as some students worked with the materials, they realized they wanted the books to have spines, so the format changed.  Ascha lead the students through a discussion about how artists, just as writers, edit their work and things do change as one makes and works.  The students worked traditional bookmaking materials: needles, thread, awls, leather, different types of paper, coffee and tea to stain the pages, and bones to fold.  Each student also created a logo or a symbol for the cover of their book – thinking about what their trade would be if they were alive in the Colonial times.  As inspiration, the students looked at different approaches artists have had to bookmaking and we talked about how books can be sculptural and different shapes and sizes.

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