What’s an artist like you doing in a school like this?

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Creators in Residence, an educational project by artists and youngsters

Creators in Residence makes an unlikely encounter possible by putting an artist to work in a school classroom for a whole year. The objective? To forge links with young people in order to go through a process of creation with them, resulting in an unprecedented work/personal project.

In the spring of 2013, when we were offered by the programme Creators in Residence at High Schools in Barcelona to take part in this project as mediators, we did not have to think about it too much. We had already heard about “Creators” and also the murmurings of the part of the educational community that most believed in the importance of art in the classroom, enlivened by the irresistible ingredients that it brings together: artists, teenagers and cultural institutions.

F. Ruiz amb alumes D. Bestué amb alumnes
Francesc Ruiz with pupils from the IES Dr. Puigvert and David Bestué with students from the IES Secretari Coloma

To smooth the way, create connections and help in the management of everything, there is a team of mediators made up of the group’s teacher – usually the visual and plastic arts teacher – and a cultural agent – with institutions from different fields of art and cultural associations involved.

Experiment 1: David Bestué in Residence at the IES Secretari Coloma

Our first task as mediators was to choose the artist. Then, the Institut de Cultura (ICUB) and the Consorci d’Educació de Barcelona named the school (IES) where he/she would have to do the residence.

For the school year 2013-2014 we chose David Bestué, an artist interested in the relationship between art and architecture, whose work displays a diversity of idioms, in which irony and humour are often present. The freshness of his messages and the uninhibited way he looks at the art history were decisive factors for choosing him.

One of the objectives of Creators in Residence is to “encourage the pupils to discover the processes involved in contemporary creation based on contact and continued dialogue with a creator, and for them to consider art from the perspective of their own experience”. In this respect, David made the boys and girls in the group go through a process of creation themselves and materialize an idea that they would show in a collective exhibition at the school. After this more personal experience, the students tackled being part of David Bestué’s working process. His residence at IES Secretari Coloma had its ups and downs; the artist’s rather conceptual work was not always understood by the students.

Muntatge Muntatge Muntatge
Assembling the exhibition of the students’ creations at the school

His relationship with the museum allowed the artist to choose 21 pieces from our storage rooms to illustrate the chronological development of sculpture. First he asked the pupils to research into the origins, function and significance of the works. Then he invited them to think about what new use they would give them. Finally, the artist used a few of these ideas, and others of his own, to turn the pieces into design objects, as can be seen in the work that came out of it, “21 objects”.

Making of Bestué 2 Bestue 5 Bestué 11
The Making of
and three examples of “21 objects”

Experiment 2: Francesc Ruiz in Residence at the IES Dr. Puigvert

This school year, 2014-2015, “our” resident artist has been Francesc Ruiz, whose work is focused on drawing and the language of the comic as an aesthetic, narrative and intellectual substratum. The ease with which his work moves between drawing and more conceptual art, his use of the comic beyond its conventions, transferred even to the sphere of the installation, without spatial or conceptual limitations in what he himself calls the “expanded comic”, made us think that it might be attractive for a group of first-year ESO pupils (12-13 years).

The core theme of Francesc’s residence has been drawing. The first months were devoted to looking at alternative and experimental comic publications, going out (besides our museum, they visited the MACBA, the Fatbottom bookshop, the Et Hall publishing house and the Llotja school) and doing drawing exercises to help the boys and girls lose their fear, a sort of warm-up for the eventual ideas with which his stay at the school has materialized.

Treball a l'aula Treball a l'aula amb l'artista
Pupils working with the artist in the classroom

Drawing Diamonds is, in the artist’s own words, “an open publishing project that believes in the possibility that we are all authors. All you have to do is put it into practice and start publishing”. The name, the logo and the fanzines that make up the catalogue of this publishing house have come from the students. The artist has been the facilitator of everything, the driving force.

Drawing diamonds presentació Drawing diamonds productes Drawing diamonds parada
Presentation and stall at the GRAF/Comic d’auteur and independent publishing fair

It is only a week since we ended the residence with a presentation and a fanzine stall at the GRAF/Còmic d’autor i edició independent fair that was held at the Fabra i Coats creative factory in Sant Andreu, the school’s own neighbourhood. The children saw their fanzines distributed in a real context, with real visitors, a veritable immersion in what it means to be an author and the responsibility implied in showing your own work. The complicity that has been established between the group’s teacher, the youngsters and the artist suggest a story with an open ending, its continuity uncertain, but with the certainty of a successful idea that has managed to integrate elements not always easy: creation, art and education.

Related links

David Bestué IN RESIDENCE at the IES Secretari Coloma

Francesc Ruiz IN RESIDENCE at the IES Dr. Puigvert

Sandra Figueras
Servei educatiu

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