Leanne Paulin, art guide, tutor, teacher with AAH Math Team, homeschool parent of four, and math and art teacher at Sankalpa Academy
Art reflects life, that’s no secret. One can learn much, though certainly not all, from the history of a society, its way of life, its social conflicts, its values simply by observing its art. Art is also a tool to teach more than just the obvious traits of creativity and exploration. Grit can come from working and reworking a piece until it’s “just right” or from a project that spans a period of time longer than a class session or two. Empathy and communication can come from building cooperative projects that foster true compassion and respect for another’s feelings and goals while also expressing our own. And empathy can come from examining the nature of a technique itself.
Consider this mosaic project from a recent summer art class at Sankalpa. Anaïs Nin wrote, “There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic.” The act of working a mosaic brings a natural discussion. What does my art look like at stages along the way? Could others predict what my intent is; can others see my vision? Can I see others’? Where does this metaphor of part and whole exist elsewhere in our lives? What do we assume though we cannot see with people, with situations, with conflicts? It’s a beautiful open-ended discussion. We can take a mosaic apart down to its individual pieces and examine each of them, each of us. And we can build it up to see the mosaic we all make as a community. Finding our own meaningful place in the mosaic of life is the ultimate goal and art can help us get there.