Two-time Zelený Les resident Joe LaMantia sees his art practice as inseparable from the process of collaboration. In his many years of working with communities and schools, he seeks to make art-making transparent, inclusive, empowering, and celebratory. Joe approaches each opportunity and setting as being entirely unique and works tirelessly to facilitate the creation of collaborative work that illuminates the particular values and qualities of the community he’s guiding.
This year the artist led Collaborative Portraits in Nature, a special site-specific workshop with a local school community. We welcomed Bill Parker, a 6th grade science teacher from South Kortright Central School and his energetic class of 23 students, Pat Norton-White, the school’s Superintendent, and Nadia Friedler, a Clark University student who brought a journaling component to the day’s activities.
Challenge #1: What Can You Find? Down by the original homestead site and in nearby woods, kids collected stones, leaves, twigs, flowers, grasses, and other natural objects with which to craft their own personal portrait.
Click the diptych below to view each student’s personal portrait:
Challenge #2: Make it Bigger. Take the portrait idea further, maybe with some teamwork. Joe poses the million dollar question…”Whose portrait would you create together?” A resounding “Mr. Parker!”
Challenge #3: Make It Gigantic! Kids got super inspired to make their next portrait big enough to be spotted by the pilot of an airplane. Who would the portrait be of this time? “Mr. Parker!” the kids all cheered. They chose the site where the barn once stood, a spacious flat area, and got to work, dispersing to various points of interest to gather their stash of portrait fixings. From the woods marched a team of students hauling fallen pine trunks. Others gathered chopped-up logs off the trails, and bags and bags of pine cones. From the fields came kids carrying armfuls of thick, flat leaves from wild iris, and other inspired finds.
Click the mosaic below to scroll through expanded photos:
Large-scale portraiture is hard work! These girls had the right idea when they took a break and pretended to be dominoes.
Final Grand Portrait – Teamwork!
After a full morning of fashioning portraits, from small to gigantic, everyone repaired to the house for lunch and got ready for the second part of their day – journaling and group discussion. Nadia Friedler, a college student at Clark University, spoke to the kids about writing down their thoughts and reflections about what they did during the morning. She introduced them to the idea of starting out on their own with their writing, then sharing their work with a smaller group, and finally bringing their experiences to everyone.
Click the mosaic below for expanded photos:
What a fantastic day!
Special thanks to Pat Norton-White, Superintendent, South Kortright Central School, Bill Parker, 6th Grade Teacher, and his participating students who shared their energy and enthusiasm for making art together!