[Recap] “Everyday Sculpture” workshop on 04/05/14

Flowerbed: Before-After

On Saturday, April 5th, 4 students joined us at Whittier High School for a half-day, “Everyday Sculpture” workshop taught by Jane Gillespie Pryor. The aim of the workshop was to introduce the students to ways of seeing common, everyday objects as material which were separate, at times, from their functions.

During the first half of workshop, we discussed the work of Tom Friedman, which included a starburst made of toothpicks,

Tom Friedman: Toothpick Starburst

Tom Friedman Untitled 1995 Toothpicks 66 x 76.2 x 58.4 cm 26 x 30 x 23″

and a self-portrait made of sugar cubes:

Tom Friedman; suger cube self-portrait

Tom Friedman, Untitled, 1999; Sugar cubes; 48 x 17 x 10 inches; A self-portrait made from sugar cube

Then we made a paper replica of our shoes.


Andrea, Jane, sculpture

Andrea and Jane Pryor

Claudio, Jon Pryor, Sculpture

Claudio and Jon Pryor

Neeran, Alice, Sculpture

Neeran and Alice

with construction paper, cardboard box paper, thin legal pad paper, etc….


Alice, shoe-in-progress P1010107


P1010086 P1010103

Jon Pryor

P1010087 P1010100


P1010088 P1010097

Claudio P1010090    Jane Jane Pryor, Shoe


After lunch, we discussed the work of Andy Goldsworthy, who used only objects found in nature as material for this art pieces. These include a sculpture made of leaves:

And Goldsworthy; Rowan leaves

Andy Goldsworthy; Rowan leaves laid around a hole

and one made of twigs (1:36):

We then set out to make our own sculpture out of natural materials and installed them outside.

Collecting Material

Collecting Material

Alice, Andrea, Neeran: Star

Alice, Andrea, Neeran: Star


Alice: Flowerbed

Alice: Flowerbed

Mike Liaw, Jacaranda

Mike Liaw, Jacaranda

We also had discussed the ephemeral nature of Goldsworthy’s work, and so we asked the students to take a picture of their artwork on Monday to see how the work changed. Here’s one before and after:

Star: Before-After

Star: Before-After


Thanks to our instructor, Jane Gillespie Pryor!

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[Sign up] Everyday Sculpture – workshop @ Whittier High School

Tom Friedman Untitled 1995 Toothpicks 66 x 76.2 x 58.4 cm 26 x 30 x 23

Tom Friedman Untitled 1995 Toothpicks 66 x 76.2 x 58.4 cm 26 x 30 x 23

When: Saturday, 4/5/14, 10:00am-2:00pm

Where: Whittier High School, Room MN1

What: Come make sculpture out of everyday materials on this half-day workshop. We’ll look at artwork by professional artists, then make and discuss each others’ work.

Instructor: Jane Gillespie Pryor

Fee: FREE; lunch included

REGISTRATION: EMAIL or TEXT ArtFormsWhittier@gmail.com or 562-755-400 with i) name, ii) contact number, and iii) grade.



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Introduction to Photography Workshop – Summary


by Alice, Grade 9

On Saturday, March 15, 9 students joined us at Whittier High School for a half-day, “Introduction to Photography” workshop taught by Jordan Nakamura. Our first exercise was to  upload photographs so to that end, we had everyone send in a new or previously taken selfie.

AlegraHannahAnthonyMike Liaw

The first portion of the workshop included a discussion on how a photograph tells stories. Some work by professional photographers we looked at:

from “Kosovo” by Andrew Querner

“Audience 7” by Thomas Struth

“Gypsy Camp” by Mary Ellen Mark

We learned to use words like lines, frames, focus, lighting, and character to talk about what stories the photographs might be telling.


Jane (Artforms), Alejandra, Bianca, Anthony. Our filmers (Amadeo and Sammy) in the background


Davina, Hannah, Alegra, Melanie, Irann, Alice, Jordan (instructor)

Then, we took the the campus to take our own pictures. We projected the photographs and talked about the story we thought the photograph was telling. Here are some of what caught our students’ eyes.

Frames, lines, lighting, perspective…

Alice, Grade 9

Lighting, shadows, symbols (trash can vs house)…

Alegra, Grade 10

Triangles, horizontal lines, building up (or tearing down?)…


Light, shadow, perspective…

Hannah 1


Color, frame, character…

Melanie, Grade 9

Line, texture, color, shapes…

Bianca 1

Bianca, Grade 10

Then lunch and getting to know each other:

IMG_20140315_121642_233 IMG_20140315_121648_359 IMG_20140315_121654_381

For the second portion of the workshop, we learned about colors and objects and how a photographer might pay attention to these things in his/her work. Some photographs we looked at:

from “The Quest for the Man on the White Donkey” by Yaakov Israel

“Blue Spring” by Lieko Shiga

By Viviane Sassen

Then a second round of picture-taking and projecting and discussing. Here are some of what the students’ paid attention to:

Lighting, color, lines and angles, tone…

Anthony 2

Anthony, Grade 10

Color, texture, shadow, frame…

Irann 2

Irann, Grade 9

Light, perspective…

Alegra 2

Alegra, Grade 10

Color, reflections, lines, texture…

Alejandra 2


Shadow, color, angles, tone…

Melanie 2

Melanie, Grade 9

Color, shadow, closeup…

Davina 2

Davina, Grade 11

We concluded the day by having the students take a selfie with the various elements of photography they had learned in mind. Here are some before and after:

Irann –

Irann       Irann 3

Bianca –

Bianca      Bianca 3

Alice –

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset      Alicia 3

Davina –

DavinaDavina 3

And thanks to our instructor Jordan Nakamura!


Jordan Nakamura

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Introduction to Photography – workshop @ Whittier High School

from “Kosovo” by Andrew Querner

When: Saturday, 3/15/14, 10:00am-2:00pm

Where: Whittier High School, Room MN1

What: Come learn basic elements of photography on this half-day workshop. We’ll look at photographs by professionals, take pictures and discuss each other’s work.

Instructor: Jordan Kapono Nakamura

Fee: FREE; lunch included

Equipment: If you have a cell phone with camera and email capabilities, bring it. You are welcome to register even if you do not have a cell phone with requisite capabilities.

REGISTRATION: Email artformswhittier@gmail.com with i) name, ii) contact number, iii) grade and iv) whether you will need a cell phone.


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“I want everything/to have/a handle.”

is Neruda ennobling everything around him, that is, every thing, so in giving every thing his attention, Neruda gives them utility and significance (“The House of Odes”). The ode is the poet’s tribute to the people and the ode belongs to the people, the host of the program said as she introduced the readers of Neruda’s poetry at the Los Angeles Central Library’s ALOUD program, “The Odes of Pablo Neruda: A Bilingual Reading“.  


Lining up.

With 32 students from Whittier High School, Alicia Lara-Wright, AP Spanish Lit teacher, and I took a day trip out first to Olvera Street for lunch and a free guided tour, and then, after a brisk walk, to the reading at the LA Central Library. If Neruda’s odes were for the people, the gazebo plaza by Olvera Street certainly shared the spirit: docent tour of El Pueblo, musicians, dancers, weddings, etc.




After the reading, we briefly discussed how a good comparison reveals a new way of seeing a commonplace image, like fire as “tail”, “hair”, “beef of wood”, or “bush of undying roses.” We also discussed how the odes gave common things a “handle” and elevated their significance by the attention that the poet paid them.


“The world/is a table/engulfed in honey and smoke,/smothered by apples and blood.”

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What do you want to make today?

From the first paragraph of Makoto Fujimura’s 2012 Spring commencement speech  at Biola University (video here):

At Beacon High School, a creative charter school in New York City, an incoming freshman class enter first into an art room located at the center of the school. And the first and only question posed to them is “what do you want to make today?”

During the Spring semester, the workshop begins with the question inspired by Fujimura’s speech: “What do you want to write about today?” I confess I did not expect the students to respond so well and quickly. The first day, a student replied, “New Years Resolutions”; then, on another, “anticipation”, from a senior waiting to hear about college admissions. Another student wanted to write with more images, and another wanted to write about riots, death, unrequited love. One student wrote, but did not share, about self-approval. 

"Keeping a new year's resolutions is like:"

“Keeping a new year’s resolutions is like:”

This question did a lot of work:

  • It raised the stakes for the students and therefore the level of engagement.
  • It helped define poems to prepare and poetic devices to introduce.
  • It decreased the time it took for students to begin their poems since they’ve already decided on the subject matter.


The question also made individual work more attractive. Besides being highly relational, the students seemed to be attracted to group work for the comfort the group afforded. I could also use better prompts for group work since I’ve notice that groups spend much time deciding on a subject matter.

IMG_20140108_162641_697 IMG_20140108_162547_150

Last workshop, we read Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish“, drew the scene, and wrote about our selected subject matter with images in such a way that one who read it could draw it.

"until everything was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!/And I let the fish go."

“until everything was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!/And I let the fish go.”

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Whittier High Poetry Workshop – Fall, Recap

During Fall last year, we began our twice-weekly presence on campus towards the end of the semester. Most of the students had their poetry exposure come from doing their senior project on a self-picked poet, so it was a good opportunity to introduce other poets and poetic devices.

We had repeat students from our summer workshops joined us, which was encouraging, and as was the case during the summer, the students really enjoyed writing in groups.

Each class began with a warmup exercise in which the students listed on the whiteboard words that they liked the sound of. This would be followed usually by a reading and discussion of a poem and then a writing exercise.

No pictures to share from the Fall, unfortunately, but some observations:

  • The students enjoyed writing the villanelle. They’ve enjoyed having structure to push against.
  • The students wanted longer workshops, for longer discussions and time to work on poems.
  • Flyers – more than social media and school announcements – was the best form of advertisement.
  • Most of the students received credit from their teachers, but most of these also had interest in poetry.

If no pictures, a short poem we enjoyed talking about:

Simply by Growing Larger


Simply by growing larger, any object will suffer continual decrease in relative surface area. — Stephen Jay Gould


As a thing grows larger,

it grows darker.

The dense organs flourish.

More and more blood goes to nourish

the purplish lobes

and loops of sausage,

all slickly packaged.

Once-agile limbs are now fragile

Humpty-Dumpty legs and arms.

Whatever charms the small thing had

are history. This is

particularly cruel in spring,

when simpler hearts can

flush and blanch a pair of wings

in one exchange, and sense

is one cell deep, and things

aren’t sullied. Then it is strange

to be the one who changed to keep,

to grow gravid and broad-bellied.


Kay Ryan, “Elephant Rocks”, 1996

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